A teenager executed more than 18 years ago for rape and murder has been exonerated in a retrial.
A court on Inner Mongolia found Huugjilt, then 18 years old, was wrongly convicted in 1996 of raping and killing a woman in a public restroom, Reuters reported Tuesday.
Another man confessed to the murder in 2005 but a retrial was not conducted until this year, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
A court official apologized to Huugjilt’s sobbing parents, who had been petitioning judicial authorities since 2006 to re-try the case, state media reported.
China has embarked on legal reform, including reducing the use of the death penalty, as public discontent mounts over wrongful punishment.
“This shows the spirit behind judicial reform in our country and that the will to pursue justice exists — that’s a good thing,” said Chen Guangzhong, a top scholar of criminal law at the China University of Political Science and Law.
However, Chen said there remain significant obstacles to reform of the death penalty and that abolishing capital punishment completely is unlikely at present.
The decision to exonerate Huugjilt was the most talked-about topic on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, with 84,000 comments.
While wrongful executions have often stirred public outrage, capital punishment itself has wide support from the Chinese public.
China guards the number of people executed annually as a state secret but anti-death penalty campaigners say it uses the death penalty in far greater numbers than other countries, the report said.
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