Chinese News Media Report on Investigations Into Nie Shubin, She Xianglin Wrongful Conviction Cases

April 8, 2005

Hebei provincial government authorities are about to announce the results of their investigation into the Nie Shubin wrongful execution case, and a Hubei court has scheduled a public hearing on April 13 to review the conviction of She Xianglin, according to various Chinese media sources. Nie Shubin was executed ten years ago for a rape and murder that another man confessed to in January (for details, click here). She Xianglin was convicted of murdering his wife in 1994 and sentenced to death, a sentence that was later commuted to fifteen years’ imprisonment. In late March, his wife suddenly returned to their Hubei village (for details, click here). Chinese media have reported widely on both cases, which came to light in recent weeks. The cases have sparked a public uproar and calls for reform of China’s criminal justice system.

According to a Hebei judicial official cited by Southern Weekend, authorities will release the results of the Nie Shubin investigation "very soon." The Hebei provincial government has formed a small group to investigate the apparent wrongful execution, but has kept a tight lid on information about the inquiry. According to the Southern Weekend article, authorities have released no news about the investigation results, although some officials have indicated that it has been difficult to review evidence in the ten-year-old case. Although both Nie’s mother and the judge in the case report that the investigation team has not interviewed them, some sources speculate that the investigation has already concluded and officials are negotiating the findings. Local police responsible for Nie’s arrest have lashed out at the media, complaining that reporters "have not considered their situation.”

Southern Metropolitan Daily reports that the Hubei High People’s Court has scheduled a public hearing on April 13 for a “retrial” (chongshen) of the She Xianglin case. In a reflection of public pressure generated by the case, Xinhua reports that a local Party leader met with Mr. She’s father to apologize to the family, and that provincial leaders have ordered relevant officials to conduct a full investigation, report to them daily, and take all possible measures to rectify the situation. Provincial procurators are reportedly traveling to Mr. She's hometown to investigate malfeasance on the part of local officials involved in his 1994 conviction. According to the Southern Metropolitan Daily, after officials pressured a local lawyer to withdraw, Mr. She’s family hired an attorney from the prominent Tianyi Law Firm in Beijing to help them pursue state compensation. In addition to She Xianglin, Mr. She’s mother, brother, and three neighbors, all of whom police reportedly detained for extended periods in connection with the original trial, are eligible for state compensation.