On August 4, the Jiangxi Higher People's Court retrial and sentenced Zhang Yuhuan in the case of intentional homicide. The court finally declared Zhang Yuhuan not guilty of “the original judgment was unclear and the evidence was insufficient”. At the moment when Zhang Yuhuan was "not guilty", the retrial defense lawyer Wang Fei felt that "a stone in my heart has finally landed".
In 2017, with the help of reporter Cao Yinglan, Wang Fei became the lawyer representing Zhang Yuhuan. In an interview with all media reporters from Guangzhou Daily, Wang Fei stated that the redress of Zhang Yuhuan's case is inseparable from social media, family members, and the legal profession.
Text, picture/Guangzhou Daily full media reporter Cheng Yilun and intern Wang Yaxin sent from Nanchang, Jiangxi
In an interview with Zhang Yuhuan, he mentioned the lawyer Wang Fei in this way: "I was reading newspapers in prison and viewing programs, and seeing him vindicating the Hebei Liao Haijun case, Liao Haijun was able to come out after 16 years of detention. Thinking, I will definitely be able to go out. As long as I live one day, I will insist (appeal) for one day."
The key to redress the case is persistence
Guangzhou Daily: Was it difficult to obtain evidence in the Zhang Yuhuan case?
Wang Fei: This process took more than three years. In fact, every unjust case is very difficult and requires a lot of work. We only sent thousands of letters during our agency. Obtaining evidence is not particularly difficult, because the case itself has no substantive evidence pointing to Zhang Yuhuan’s crime. The two guilty confessions that tied him to death for nearly 27 years are actually very contradictory. It took two days and one day in the field. Killing inside, killing people in my own home one day, I think this is a fake. Everyone has their own judgments about a fact. It is easy for a lawyer to judge a person who tells the truth or lies. Later, we read so many grievance letters written by Zhang Yuhuan, this kind of long interrogation, during which wolves were bitten, I think these methods are enough to make one person submit. In addition, all the cases we have rehabilitated before show such a pattern, so I think that Zhang Yuhuan was regarded as the murder suspect in this case. He did not rely on evidence, but was entirely speculation.
Guangzhou Daily: What is the key to the restoration of Zhang Yuhuan's case?
Wang Fei: I think the key lies in persistence. In fact, I went to Jiangxi High Court to talk about this case. I think you should know that it is an unjust case. Otherwise, how to solve the two doubts? First, if the facts are clear, why does this case need to be tried for eight years? Also, the legal provisions in the verdict are very clear. You must be convicted with clear facts and sufficient evidence. However, Zhang Yuhuan’s legal document states that the basic facts are clear and the basic evidence is sufficient, which shows that the judge is not confident in this case. . Second, if the evidence is solid, can the two minors save Zhang Yuhuan's life? Killed long ago. So I judged based on these factors. I think they might internally think that this case could not be settled, but I don’t know why it must be settled.
Therefore, in my opinion, the key to rehabilitating this case lies in persistence. As long as you persist, it is not difficult to judge this case. It is not a complicated case. It is the simplest unjust case I have encountered, but the time for the party to be wronged is the longest. These are two extremes.
No direct evidence other than "confession"
Guangzhou Daily: Why is it the simplest unjust case?
Wang Fei: In the past, some cases did have evidence that seemed to be able to point to the parties, but in this case, apart from the confession, there was no direct evidence pointing to Zhang Yuhuan. Why didn't a person kill someone? Why would he make up that he killed someone? What was the real reason? Evidence obtained by torture cannot be used as evidence. It must be excluded. Illegal evidence cannot be presented in court. Therefore, this case is rather regrettable. It is mainly due to the impact of the epidemic. If it were not for the impact of the epidemic, we would be very determined. It is required that this port be eliminated. If it is ruled out, there is no evidence in this case to prove that Zhang Yuhuan committed the crime and is absolutely innocent, rather than unclear facts and insufficient evidence. There are no unclear facts in this case. The facts are very clear. He didn't do it. That's the situation.
Guangzhou Daily: What do you think is the reason for the existence of torture in the process of handling the case? How to avoid these problems?
Wang Fei: First, it may be that the unreasonable rigid rule that the homicide case must be solved at that time provided a possibility for torture to extract a confession. The homicide case must be solved will inevitably put a lot of pressure on the following case-handlers. When there is really no clue, they are likely to find a scapegoat based on this pressure and make a person who is not the real murderer become the real murderer. Perform torture to extract a confession.
Second, the case-handling personnel are eager for quick success and instant benefits, and are eager to receive awards. Because the general homicide case is definitely a major case, and after a major case is solved in any place, meritorious service will be made. Driven by this kind of interests, some investigators may ignore some of the most basic objective facts. Therefore, sometimes it is true that some case handlers are deliberately making fraud.
Third, it is also possible that in a special historical period, deep-rooted presumptions of guilt led to torture to extract confessions. Many case-handling personnel rely on a kind of empiricism, he only relies on some people's expressions and other factors to create some preconceived notions. Because he knew you were a criminal in his heart, and you don't admit it now because you are arguing. At this time, he may intensify the torture to extract a confession.
Guangzhou Daily: Is there a big difference between absolute innocence and unclear facts?
Wang Fei: Yes, you read some comments on the Internet and say that he is still a suspect. He just has insufficient evidence and acquits him. People think that the police can investigate him at any time.
Lawyer Wang Fei (first from right) and Zhang Yuhuan's mother.
"I am confident in my heart that I will be firmer in doing things"
Guangzhou Daily: Why did you accept this case?
Wang Fei: In this case, Cao Yinglan, a reporter from Jiangxi TV Station, found me. In fact, it was not my family who found Cao Yinglan. It was Zhang Youling, the village doctor who discovered that the case was not an accident but a murder. He was more guilty, and felt that Zhang Yuhuan's being wronged would not happen if he didn't talk too much. We later told him that what you did in the past was correct, and what you did now is also correct. You used to tell the truth out of the doctor’s conscience, no problem, but you were wronged later, that was not caused by you.
When Cao Yinglan gave us some information, we judged that more than 80% of the case was an unjust case based on our professional acumen. After we met Zhang Yuhuan, we were even more sure that this case was an unjust case. Later, the entire case file fully confirmed some of our previous judgments.
Guangzhou Daily: Actually, it was not easy for you to take this case. I heard that the travel expenses were not enough?
Wang Fei: Sometimes there is no way. Everyone has compassion. When facing someone who has been wronged for so many years, you want to help him when you see it. And according to our experience, it can really help him, and other lawyers may not be successful. After the Jiangxi Leping case, we still have a certain influence in the Jiangxi Higher Court, and we will pay more attention to our case.
We have always been more pragmatic, including in the Leping case, we have communicated with the court many times, and I have always said that if a person who has been investigated by me is not wronged, I will never give him a grievance. I know that our lawyers are responsible to society. I cannot rescue a real murderer and let him kill again. The judge's worries are actually our lawyers' worries. Therefore, we will do a lot of investigations to rule out the possibility that he is the real murderer in this case. Only after we have convinced ourselves can we firmly promote this case. From this point of view, the court still trusts our judgment and professional ethics.
In the case of Zhang Yuhuan, I actually did a lot of work. I stayed in their village for more than a week. Because the case itself has no evidence about his crime, I want to know his personality, his character, and whether there are any major conflicts between him and the two families. There must be a motive for killing. Normal people cannot kill because of a trivial matter. Later, it was discovered that there was no substantial contradiction between the child's family and Zhang Yuhuan's family, and the relationship was even good. In this case, he went to kill just because the two children were naughty, which I think is unreasonable. Then we also looked at the location of his house. It was so close to a road. He went to kill at 11 noon. I thought it was impossible for him to kill in such an exposed environment and time. I judged the story to be false at the time. Only fake ones will have a lot of absurdity and some places that cannot stand scrutiny. So my judgment on this case is actually carried out from various aspects. I am basically convinced that this statement must be false. When handling a case, you must form your own heart testimony, your own inner conviction, and your conviction about what this matter is like. After forming such conviction, you will be more determined in doing this.
"My mission is finally completed"
Guangzhou Daily: What was your mood after hearing that Zhang Yuhuan was not guilty?
Wang Fei: I feel that a stone in my heart has finally landed, and my mission has finally been completed. Although I didn't promise Zhang Yuhuan when I saw him, I was actually thinking in my heart that I would save him, but I dared not tell him. We can’t give him hope, because every case like this is very difficult and there are uncertainties. It’s said in our industry that this kind of case can be rehabilitated, just like you win a lottery ticket, it is a low probability. event. But in my judgment at the time, a fake thing was done on a person, and it was made into a murderer. I think this is beyond the bottom line of justice. I don’t believe that such a bottom line can be broken, so I still have Confidence reversed this matter.
"If you don't pick it up, there will be no hope for him"
Guangzhou Daily: I feel that the more frustrated you are, the more courage you are, and you have to pick up these difficult cases over and over again.
Wang Fei: It's like what I said before, maybe he still has a glimmer of hope after you go. If you don't pick it up, he will never have hope, and he will never be able to put down this thing. Some people say that you have been wronged, and you forget all of this. I think it is that we have not experienced the feeling of being wronged at all, and it is actually impossible to forget it. Some people may be wronged, and all of their lives will be redressing grievances. Even if redressing grievances is unsuccessful, he will do so, and it will last his entire life. Therefore, when I often see the client, I usually ask if you are sure that you did not do this. He said I am sure, I am very sure, I am the client, and I know very well whether I did not do it. I said as long as you didn't do it, you should have hope. Sometimes it is really necessary to encourage these people, because he is there, especially for more than 20 years. If he does not encourage him, he will really be completely desperate by himself.
Guangzhou Daily: You represented this case, it should be Zhang Yuhuan's hope.
Wang Fei: Mainly, he is also more persistent. Generally speaking, this kind of particularly persistent parties can also move us. Including the case we are representing now, I believe they will be innocent in the near future.