Former China death row inmate awarded court payout

BEIJING (AFP) - A Chinese man who was sentenced to death and spent 12 years in prison for the rape and murder of a child was awarded US$160,000 (S$200,893) compensation on Tuesday after his conviction was overturned, a court said.

Li Huailiang stood trial seven times and was given three different sentences for the rape and murder of a 13-year-old girl in Pingdingshan in August 2001, the official Xinhua news agency said.

The farmer was condemned to death, then death with a two-year reprieve - a Chinese sentence normally commuted to life in prison - and after that, 15 years in jail.

Each time, the verdict was subsequently overturned "due to lack of evidence", but he was not formally acquitted until April this year, when he was released from prison, Xinhua said.

Li was not released earlier as he "had to await a further trial", it added.

The Intermediate People's Court in Pingdingshan, in the central province of Henan, granted him 780,000 yuan (S$161,257) for the loss of "personal freedom" for 4,282 days spent in prison and a further 200,000 yuan for "psychological damage", a statement posted on its website said.

Li had claimed 3.79 million yuan in total, the statement added.

Abuses are widespread in China's legal system, where police routinely coerce confessions and courts have a near-perfect conviction rate.

Nonetheless a trickle of wrongful guilty verdicts have been overturned this year.

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