Beijing (CNN)More than two decades after he was executed for rape and murder, China’s top court has found a young man innocent.
Nie Shubin’s conviction was overturned Friday, the official Xinhua news agency reported, in a landmark case that has exposed flaws in China’s criminal justice system.
Xinhua said another man, Wang Shujin, confessed to the crime that Nie was executed for in 2005 — 10 years after Nie was executed.
“In this case, the Supreme People’s Court changed the original sentence and ruled Nie Shubin is innocent,” the Xinhua report said.
The court concluded Nie’s original trial didn’t “obtain enough objective evidence,” saying there were serious doubts about the time of death, murder weapon and cause of death.
“As the evidence is not accurate or adequate and nor can it exclude the possibilities of other suspects, it is recommended that the Supreme People’s Court retry the case.”
The Supreme People’s Court had told Nie’s mother in June that the case would be reviewed.
For years, it seemed no one would listen, but Zhang later found an unlikely ally in the People’s Daily — the official newspaper of the ruling Communist Party. It ran a scathing commentary in September 2011 that asked: “In a case where someone was clearly wronged, why has it been so difficult to make it right?”
“Rehabilitation means little to the dead, but it means a lot to his surviving family and all other citizens,” it said. “We can no longer afford to let Nie’s case drag on.”
Many have viewed Zhang’s plight — and the case involving her only son — as an egregious example of widespread police torture, deficient due process and lax review of death sentences.
China is the world’s most prolific executioner, killing thousands of people last year, according to rights group Amnesty International.
In 2013, China’s top court banned the use of torture to extract confession amid widespread concern that it was being used to wrap up cases quickly.