China / Hot Issues

Man acquitted of killing children faces new investigation

By SUN LI/CAO YIN (China Daily) Updated: 2014-11-26 07:41

A man who was acquitted and released in August after being jailed for murder for eight years is being investigated again and has been barred from leaving the mainland.

Police in Pingtan county, Fujian province, said on Tuesday that they reopened the old murder investigation after the Fujian High People's Court proclaimed Nian Bin innocent on Aug 22.

Lin Fenlan, a police officer of the county, confirmed that report, saying the investigation has a legal basis. But Lin said it is currently not possible to disclose details of the case, including what crime Nian is now suspected of or what new evidence the police have.

The murder case began in July 2006, when four people in the county, three of them children, fell ill while eating dinner. Two of the children later died. The then-30-year-old Nian, the victims' neighbor, became a suspect in the case as he was not on good terms with the family.

In 2008, Fuzhou Intermediate People's Court sentenced Nian to death for poisoning and murder. Two years later, the Supreme People's Court did not approve the death sentence because of unclear facts and insufficient evidence.

In 2011, Nian was sentenced to death again in the intermediate court after the case was reviewed.

Gongsun Xue, one of Nian's lawyers, said Nian was melancholiac after he was acquitted and came to Beijing for medical exams, and his family planned to take him to Hong Kong for better treatment.

But when Nian applied for a Hong Kong pass, the entry-exit administration informed them that Nian is still under police jurisdiction and may not leave the mainland.

"We carried the verdict to prove Nian, like others, has a right to the pass under current laws, but the administration told us the police did in fact launch a new investigation 10 days after he was acquitted," said Gongsun.

The entry-exit restriction can be invoked if police find evidence that makes Nian a suspect, she said.

"But as of now, the police haven't released anything about new evidence to the public," she said.

Zhang Yansheng, another of Nian's lawyers, said the police should detain Nian under Chinese Criminal Procedure Law if they consider him to be a suspect in the old case, instead of dealing with him administratively, such as through an entry-exit restriction.

"I applied several times to the courts to ask the police to provide new evidence over the past eight years, but the police couldn't. I don't know how they can find new evidence in 10 days that they haven't already disclosed," Zhang said.

Cheng Lei, an associate law professor at Renmin University of China, said the restriction will be effective if police can define the case as criminal and are investigating possible criminal activity.

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