Guangdong man gets record damages for wrongful imprisonment

Steel worker who spent 11 years in prison after being framed for cheque fraud receives a record 825,000 yuan in compensation

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 02 November, 2012, 7:23am

A Guangdong man who was wrongly jailed for 11 years has received about 825,000 yuan (HK$1.02 million) in compensation after being exonerated by a local court in 2010.

The payout was the highest ever granted under the national compensation law, according to his lawyer.

Huang Liyi , a 39-year-old former employee at a steel company in Kaiping , was sentenced to life in jail in 2000 for cheque fraud involving 2.14 million yuan. He had already served a year in jail before his conviction, and he remained behind bars until 2010.

"I'm happier now; at least I have my freedom back. But I don't want to speak more because being jailed is not something I'm proud of," Huang told the South China Morning Post yesterday. "I'm collecting more evidence, and I want to see those who framed me penalised. I would much rather live without the compensation if justice could be served."

However, his Beijing-based lawyer, Yang Xuelin , said the odds of anyone being held accountable for framing Huang were slim.

The exoneration "was not a procedural outcome, but simply a stroke of luck", Yang said. "It will not open the floodgates. We probably won't see another [exoneration] anytime soon, because this country's justice system has no mechanism to correct mistakes."

The Guangdong Higher People's Court on Monday awarded Huang 665,889 yuan for his loss of freedom, and 160,000 yuan for psychological and emotional distress, The Southern Metropolis News reported yesterday.

"No amount of money can justify the loss of freedom, but this outcome is still better than in many other cases of judicial injustice", where convicted people won't even get the chance to be exonerated, Yang said.

Since his exoneration on July 19, 2010, Huang has married and had a son.

It's a second chance for which he fought hard. Huang began the appeal process in 2001.

In 2003, he petitioned the Guangdong Higher People's Court but was denied a retrial. The next year he took his case to the Supreme People's Court, which decided in 2005 that an investigation into his case should be reopened. By the end of that year, the Supreme People's Court ordered the Guangdong Higher People's Court to grant Huang a retrial, but the necessary legal documents were not transferred back to the lower court until January 2007.

Five months later Huang found himself transferred to a remote jail in Xinjiang's Aksu prefecture, which is common for prisoners serving jail terms longer than 10 years.

The Guangdong Higher People's Court finally ordered that its original verdict be thrown out, and the Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court reheard the case in March 2009. Huang was exonerated the next year.

In September last year, Yang applied for 2.18 million yuan in compensation for wrongful imprisonment and the the economic and psychological harm he suffered.

Under the amended state compensation law, which went into effect in December 2010, compensation for loss of freedom is calculated on a daily basis and according to the average daily wage in the area where the person holds residency.

In this case, it was based on the average salary, about 162.65 yuan a day in 2011, for residents of urban Guangdong townships.