Chinese man gets US$130,000 compensation after spending eight years in jail for crime he didn’t commit

Zhang Jun was sentenced to 20 years after being wrongfully identified as member of gang behind double robbery

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 July, 2018, 12:32pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 July, 2018, 12:37pm

A Chinese man who spent almost eight years in prison for a crime he did not commit has been awarded 880,000 yuan (US$130,000) in compensation, according to a local newspaper report.

Zhang Jun was sentenced to 20 years behind bars in 2008 for what the court ruled at the time was his role in two robberies in Daqing, Heilongjiang province, The Beijing News reported on Thursday.

Despite arguing at his initial trial that he had never even been to the north China city, Zhang was identified as a member of a four-man gang charged with robbing two women of about 90,000 yuan.

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Prosecutors said Zhang, who had a criminal record for an earlier conviction for theft, had been identified by other members of the gang.

The court rejected Zhang’s alibi, and later sentenced each of the three people who provided it – his father and two friends – to a year in prison.

They too were later released after their sentences were also quashed, the report said.

“I never knew I was wanted by the police until they detained me,” Zhang was quoted in the report.

He said that at the time of the robberies he had been working as a factory manager in the south China province of Guangdong, thousands of kilometres away.

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After years of proclaiming his innocence, Zhang returned to court for an appeal hearing in May last year. The court ruled that his earlier conviction had been based on insufficient evidence and upheld the appeal.

A year after his release, Zhang on Monday received his compensation payment from the Daqing court, the report said.

Despite the vindication, Zhang said he still wanted an apology from the police officers and officials who handled his case and sent him to prison for such a long time.

“I don’t even know how to use a smartphone,” he was quoted as saying.

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According to official records, between 2013 and 2016, Chinese courts overturned more than 3,500 convictions and paid out 700 million yuan in compensation.

The largest single payment was 2.75 million yuan made to Chen Man, who served 23 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of murder and arson.