In August 1994, a Chinese man was named a suspect in the rape and murder of Kang Juhua, whose body was found in the northern Hebei province. He was allegedly beaten into a confession, subjected to a trial his parents couldn't attend, and executed by gunshot without their knowledge seven months later. Now, 21 years after that, China's supreme court has declared Nie Shubin, just 20 years old at the time of his death, innocent. CNN calls it "a landmark case that exposed deep flaws in China's criminal justice system," where 99.93% of cases ended with a conviction in 2013. In their ruling, the judges noted that Nie was made a suspect "without a shred of evidence" and that the time and cause of death and murder weapon couldn't be verified, reports the AP. And, then, there was the other confession.
A man named Wang Shujin admitted to the crimes in 2005; it took nine years for a legal review of the case to commence—Beijing legal expert Xu Xin tells the New York Times the police and prosecutors who worked on the case drove the hold-up—and the court in June of this year decided the case should be retried. On Friday, Xinhua reports the Supreme People's Court, among other things, ruled the "truth and legitimacy of Nie's confession" were in doubt. Nie's mother, burdened by both the loss of her son and her husband's attempted suicide in the wake of Nie's death, broke down sobbing at the news. She tells CNN, "I wanted to tell my son: you're a good person, you're innocent." Xinhua reports Wang was sentenced to death for unrelated rape and murder cases. (Something similar happened almost exactly two years ago.)