Wu Ying appeals to Supreme Court to overturn death sentence for fraud

In a case that has gained wide attention, family writes to Supreme Court, claiming innocence

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 February, 2013, 4:47am

Wu Ying, the self-made billionaire convicted of defrauding investors in a 770 million yuan (HK$956 million) scheme, has appealed to the Supreme People's Court to overturn her death sentence.

The appeal is the latest effort by Wu, 31, and her family in their fight for justice.

"We are ordinary citizens but we want to fight for justice and fairness for ourselves," said Wu's father, Wu Yongzheng. "We hope the government could make amends for the mistake."

We are ordinary citizens but we want to fight for justice and fairness for ourselves. We hope the government could make amends for the mistake

He told the South China Morning Post that his daughter had submitted a letter to the Supreme Court and was awaiting a reply.

"I am not sure whether we will get a reply, but we had to try," he said.

The appeal was the latest twist to a high-profile case involving Wu Ying, once one of the mainland's richest people.

She catapulted into the national limelight in 2009 after she was sentenced to death by an intermediate court in Zhejiang province for illegally raising massive funds through fraud.

Wu Ying received unprecedented support from people across the nation calling for mercy early last year when the High Court in Zhejiang upheld the death sentence.

Dozens of private entrepreneurs told the Post Wu Ying did not deserve to die.

Wu and her family insisted no fraud was involved in the fundraising activities because "depositors" rushed to hand their money to her, hoping for lofty returns.

The public uproar over the death sentence prompted Premier Wen Jiabao to step in. Wen told the media in March last year that the Supreme Court would carefully review the case before giving a final verdict.

Following a retrial, Wu was given a lighter punishment in May - the death sentence was suspended for two years.

Under mainland laws, a suspended death penalty is usually commuted to life imprisonment after good behaviour for two years.

But Wu Yongzheng maintained her daughter was innocent.

In November, the Jinhua Intermediate People's Court ruled in favour of Wu Ying in a case that helped protect 14 properties worth about 100 million yuan.

The verdict was believed to help Wu Ying repay the money owed to depositors in the fundraising scheme.

"We don't mean to fight against the Communist Party and the government," said Wu Yongzheng.

"I believe in the truth, and the country, based on the rule of law, should respect our request and give us a reply."

In Zhejiang, one of the most affluent provinces where private businesses have flourished in the past three decades, thousands of cash-rich investors participated in illegal "underground banking" businesses to chase higher returns than if the money was placed with commercial banks because of low interest rates.