BEIJING — A court in northern China on Monday cleared a man of the rape and murder of a woman in a public toilet 18 years after he was executed for the crime.
The Inner Mongolia Higher People’s Court announced on its microblog that it had overturned the conviction of Huugjilt, who was 18 when he was sentenced to death and executed for the 1996 crime. Like many ethnic Mongolians, Huugjilt used only one name.
The deputy head of the court, Zhao Jianping, offered his “sincere apologies” to Huugjilt’s parents, China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported. The parents received 30,000 yuan ($5,630) as an expression of the court’s sympathy and were told they could claim an unspecified amount of compensation.
Chinese state media carried photos of a court official handing over the verdict to Huugjilt’s weeping parents at their home in Inner Mongolia’s regional capital of Hohhot.
State media had previously reported that a convicted serial rapist and killer confessed to the murder in 2005 after receiving a death sentence for other crimes, but was never tried for this killing and has still not been executed. Huugjilt’s retrial was held only last month.
Huugjilt had come to the attention of the police after reporting that he had found the woman’s body in a public toilet in Hohhot after hearing a cry for help.
China is believed to execute more people for crimes each year than the rest of the world combined, but keeps the data secret.
Huugjilt’s trial and execution came amid one of China’s periodic “strike hard” campaigns, during which police and courts were put under extra pressure to break cases and punish criminals.
China’s high court has since taken charge of reviewing all death sentences and has pledged to carry out executions for only the most heinous crimes.