JINAN, April 28 (Xinhua) -- A hearing for a rape and murder case, in which a young man was executed in 1995 only for another convict to confess to the crime, began Tuesday in east China's Shandong Province.
Nie Shubin, a native of Hebei Province, which neighbors Shandong, was 21 when he was convicted and executed for the rape and murder of a woman in Hebei's capital Shijiazhuang. However, in 2005, Wang Shujin said he was behind the crime.
The hearing began at 1:30 p.m and was adjourned at 10:26 p.m. at Shandong Higher People's Court.
It was attended by Nie's mother and sister, their lawyers Chen Guangwu and Li Shuting, and officials representing those involved in the original trials.
They reviewed and expressed opinions on the facts, evidence, procedure and application of law in Nie's case.
Schloars, lawmakers, political advisors, court staff as well as representatives of the public participated in the hearing.
Two procurators were designated by the Shandong People's Procuratorate to supervise the hearing at the court.
At the hearing, lawyer Li said the facts and evidence that supported the conviction were unclear and inadequate.
There were many violations in the investigation and trial, Li added.
Li asked the higher court to launch a retrial.
After the hearing was adjourned, the review panel held meetings and read files so that participants to the hearing could fully and freely express their opinions.
Wang was apprehended by police in 2005 for three unconnected rape and murder cases. He also claimed to have raped and murdered a woman in a cornfield on the outskirts of Shijiazhuang in 1994. He was sentenced to death in 2007.
In 2013, Hebei Higher People's Court, which approved Nie's death penalty, overruled Wang's claim. The decision raised questions about judicial impartiality.
In December, the Supreme People's Court asked Shandong Higher People's Court to review the case. The higher court allowed the two lawyers for Nie's family to read the case files.
Normally in China, for the review of a murder conviction, the court goes through case files rather than holding an actual trial. This form of a hearing is rare for such cases.
Prior to the hearing, Zhu Yunsan, presiding judge of the review panel of the Shandong higher court, said they would seriously consider and study the opinions of different parties at the hearing.
"Through the hearing, we hope the public will have a better understanding of the review process, as well as enhancing transparency," he added.
The hearing was reported at the official Weibo account of the Shandong Higher People's Court.
Chinese leaders have announced reforms to advance rule of law in the country to promote fairness and justice.
The review of Nie's case will "ensure judicial fairness and is in response to public concerns," according to the Supreme People's Court in December.
Last year, Chinese courts upheld independence and advanced judicial measures that centered on the goal of "letting the people feel fairness and justice in every case," said a SPC report in March, adding ten major cases were rectified.
Among them, the acquittal of an executed man in another rape-murder case in the northern Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
Huugjilt, from Inner Mongolia, was still a teenager when he was executed for the rape and murder of a woman in June 1996. A self-confessed serial rapist and killer, Zhao Zhihong, admitted to the crime while in police custody in 2005.
In December, Huugjilt had his innocence officially announced by Inner Mongolia Autonomous Regional Higher People's Court. His parents were awarded state compensation of more than 2 million yuan (322,399 U.S. dollars).
In February, Zhao was sentenced to death for multiple crimes, including the crime that Huugjilt was executed for.