At 9:00 am on the morning of June 25, Wang Shujin was escorted into the Higher Court of Handan City, Hebei province. More than 200 seats in the courtroom's public gallery were occupied. In 2005, the 46-year-old man was arrested on charges of raping and killing three women in 1994 and 1995. In 2007, he was sentenced to death.
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What makes Wang's case unique, however, is that he insists his guilt in a fourth murder, but prosecutors have sought to invalidate his confession and affirm his innocence. Scholars say Wang's trial will test the impartiality and integrity of China's judicial system, as well as the public confidence in the judiciary. The verdict, nearly 8 years in coming, has been deferred once again.
The crime to which Wang Shujin has now confessed was thought solved long ago. Another man, Nie Shubin, was executed for raping and murdering the woman in a corn field in Shijiazhuang City, Hebei Province. Wang Shujin has claimed he was the real murderer and is appealing his death sentence, asking for leniency owing to his confession to a fourth murder case. The greatest controversy of the trial is whether Wang Shujin in fact killed the woman -- meaning Nie Shubin was grievously wronged -- or was just trying to reduce his sentence. According to Article 68 of China's Criminal Law, any criminal who not only voluntarily surrenders after committing the crime but also performs major meritorious services shall be given a mitigated punishment or be exempted from punishment.