fter spending nearly half of his life behind bars, a man in Jilin province has been acquitted of rape and murder.
Now 50 years old, Jin Zhehong was only 27 when he was arrested by police and charged with raping and murdering a young woman in the Jilin wilderness. Police said that Jin had picked up the 20-year-old woman as a hitchhiker before driving into the secluded countryside, raping her, killing her, throwing her body into a ditch, and burying the corpse.
In 1996, Jin was found guilty and sentenced to death with reprieve. In the next four years, his case was put under judicial review twice, both times ending in the same outcome.
However, in 2014, significant doubts about Jin’s guilt started to emerge with Chinese state media reporting that there were a number of inconsistencies in the police’s story. In fact, no evidence or eyewitnesses tied to Jin to the crime, only his confession, which Jin says that he made while being tortured by police.
The reports caused the province’s higher court to announce that the case would be reopened. However, it wasn’t until last month that Jin finally got a new trial. Earlier today, the court overturned Jin’s conviction on lack of evidence, making him a free man after spending 23 years in prison.
”It’s still justice even though it comes too late,” Jin told reporters outside the courtside following the verdict. “All I want to do right now is visit my parents’ tomb.”
While he was in prison, Jin’s mother had died and his wife had remarried. Jin’s son was only 2 years old when his father was locked away. In the two decades since, the son estimates that he’s spent less than four hours combined with his dad.
Jin has declared that he plans to seek compensation from the state over his imprisonment. In recent years, a number of convictions that were reached through false confessions in the 1990s have been overturned, though, in at least two cases, only decades after the innocent man was executed.