Man in China gets $247,000 for six years on death row

BEIJING (AFP) - A Chinese man who was freed after six years on death row following a wrongful murder conviction was paid S$247,000 in compensation, state media said on Tuesday, amid anger at the flawed legal system.

Nian Bin, a former food-stall owner who was convicted of poisoning two children and condemned to death in 2008, was finally freed after a court quashed his conviction last August.

A court awarded him 1.14 million yuan (S$247,000) for loss of personal freedom and mental suffering, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

His case went through multiple appeals, with lawyers arguing that the evidence against him was insufficient and saying police had tortured him to obtain a confession.

Nian applied in December for 15 million yuan in compensation from the government at a court in the eastern province of Fujian which had upheld his death sentence three times, the China Daily reported at the time.

He also requested the court make a public apology through the media, it added.

Acquittals in China's Communist-controlled court system are extremely rare - 99.93 percent of defendants in criminal cases were found guilty last year, according to official statistics.

The use of force to extract confessions remains widespread in the country and defendants often do not have an effective defence in criminal trials, leading to regular miscarriages of justice.

China has occasionally exonerated wrongfully executed convicts after others came forward to confess their crimes, or in some cases because the supposed murder victim was later found alive.

The Communist Party is attempting to allay public anger over injustices by lessening the influence of local officials over some court cases, and reversing verdicts in some high-profile cases.