Scream: Nian Bin on the Death Row

According to the recently released report about death penalty by Amnesty International,  “China once again executed more people than the rest of the world put together, but due to the secrecy surrounding the use of the death penalty in the country it was not possible to obtain accurate figures on the use of capital punishment in China.”

nianbin2Today, in China, besides the unkown exact number of people executed for death penalty, there is also the worst problem of innocent people who were abridged of their life or are waiting in the death row. Nian Bin is one of them who has been suffering behind the bars for almost seven years. The major evidence used to sentence him is not only obtained under torture but also does not conform with the fact.

Born in 1976, Nian Bin (in Chinese) is a Christian and a frank young man. He never quarrels with other people. However, in February 2008, he was wrongly sentenced to death penalty under the oral evidence given by himself under torture,  while there are until today a lot of unclear facts about the case.

In Aoqin village of Fujian Province, Ding Yunxia family rented a shop from Chen Yanjiao. Ding and Chen families often have meals together. On 27 July 2006, the father in law of Ding gave Ding some fish and squids. Chen washed the fish and squids and boiled them in a metal pot. It is not clear from where, the red bucket or a water pot, she got the water to boil the food. In the afternoon, Chen’s daughter came to the kitchen and cut the squids into small pieces and fried them with peppers and also made sweet potato porridge. Ding later also came back and said she used the water from the water pot and made some rice porridge. About 6pm the same day, Ding, her three kids, Chen and Chen’s daughter had dinner together. Chen’s family had sweet potato porridge

And Ding family had rice porridge. Five ate (Ding’s three kids, Chen and her daughter) squids and fish. Ding was the last one to have dinner and all the squids were eaten, so she only had rice porridge and fish.

Around 8 or 9 that night, all five people who ate squids showed symptoms of poisoning. In the morning of 28 July 2006, Ding’s oldest son and her daughter died. The public security investigated about ten people, including Ding, Ding’s youngest son (6 years old), Chen and her daughter, Nian Bin who also rented a shop from Chen, and a few others.   Police also checked the kitchen and took away the metal pot, the water pot, rice-cooker, plates and bowls, and leftover fish etc. Later they found that it was a deadly poison fluoroacetic acid that caused the death of the victims.

12 days later, on 7 August  2006, the public security checked the door knot from Nian Bin’s shop to the courtyard and concluded that it was likely to contain the poison. Nian Bin was then arrested as a suspect.

The investigators wanted to solve the case and imposed torture upon Nian Bin. According to Nian Bin’s statement, he was hung in the air with only his toes slightly touching the ground, he was also tortured by putting books on his ribs and then banged with hammer; he was told that if he acknowledged it was him, he would be sentenced to only three years; and he was also threatened that his wife would be arrested too… Under the unbearable suffering, Nian Bin was forced to acknowledge that he put the poison into the water pot.  The case then was solved and the investigators were awarded by Fujian province.

A detailed analysis of the wrongful sentence based on incompatible evidence extorted under torture can be read here (in Chinese). According to the analysis, the key evidence that can prove Nian bin’s innocence is the water pot. The water pot was taken away by the investigators on the first day and was checked to contain no poison at all.   However the sentencing of Nian Bin death penalty was exactly based on his acknowledgement under torture that he put the poison into the water pot.

The death penalty sentence was made on 1 February 2008 by Fuzhou city Intermediate court, it was appealed to Funjian province superior court and was sent back to Fuzhou for retrial due to unclear fact, insufficient evidence on 31 December 2008. On 29 June 2009, Fuzhou Intermediate Court confirmed Nian Bin’s death penalty.  It was then referred to Fujian superior court again and the death penalty was confirmed by the superior court on 12 April 2010. The case was then referred to the Supreme Court in Beijing in April 2010 for review. The Supreme Court sent it back for retrial due to unclear fact and insufficient evidence.  On 5 May 2011, the Fujian Superior Court tried the case with a written hearing and decided to resend the case back to Fuzhou Intermediate Court due to unclear fact and insufficient evidence. On 24 December 2011, Fuzhou Intermediate Court judged that Nian Bin should be sentenced to death penalty which should be executed immediately.

Until today, Nian Bin has been under the bars and on the death row for almost seven years.  Zhang Yansheng, Nian Bin’s first defense lawyer, writes (in Chinese):

Nian Bin came in, wearing the shackles that only those sentenced to death penalty wear. This kind of shackes include both handcuffs and foot shackles, which were connected together by chains. They make the people unable to walk naturally, no big steps can be taken and hands cannot be moved freely while walking. Nian Bin has to wear them even at night. Suffering by wearing the shackles for years, there is unbearable pain almost all over Nian Bin’s body.

Many lawyers, including Teng Biao, Si Weijiang (video in Chinese) and citizens have called for a just trial this time, to return Nian Bin a free person back to his family where his wife and son have waited for years .

In mid April 2013, the Fujian Superior Court will retry Nian Bin’s case,  according to Nian Bin’s sister Nian Jianlan @NJL18  on twitter.

More about Nian Bin’s case, please see here (Nian Bin’s sister’s blog, in Chinese) and here (Lawyer Zhang Yansheng’s blog, in Chinese)

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4 Responses to Scream: Nian Bin on the Death Row

  1. move says:

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  2. oklovehao123 says:

    Nian Bin is acquitted now.

  3. more about Nian Bin, Nov. 26, 2014 http://comments.caijing.com.cn/20141126/3759237.shtml

    A translation of part of the article:
    In August 2014, after eight years in prison, Nian Bin was acquitted and declared innocent by Fujian Provincial High Court. However today, he finds that he is still a “criminal suspect”. In September 2014, Pingtan County Police relisted Nian bin as the criminal suspect for the same poisoning case.
    A man declared innocent by the final trial, is remade a criminal suspect just because the “real murderer” is not caught. Where is the effect of the final trial? Where lies the judicial authority? Will Nian bin, Imprisoned for eight years, be strangled in this case for ever? We hope this case will become a chance for China to acknowledge the principle of “prohibiting double jeopardy”.

    今年8月,经历了八年牢狱之灾的念斌,刚刚被福建省高院判决无罪。然而如今,念斌发现自己还是一个“犯罪嫌疑人”。今年9月,平潭县公安局竟然重新将念斌列为之前投毒案的“犯罪嫌疑人”。
    被终审判决无罪的人,因为“真凶”没有落网,被重新列为犯罪嫌疑人,那么终审判决的既判力何在?司法权威何在?入狱已8年的念斌,难道一辈子就要被这么纠缠下去?希望本案成为中国明确“禁止双重危险原则”的契机.

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