Fang Junjin Case (方俊金盗窃案)

Fang Junjin Case (方俊金盗窃案)

Case Summary: 

The Defendant/Exoneree: Fang Junjin (方俊金), born in 1973.

Facts:

On Feb. 12, 2009, a burglary was reported in Tubu Town, Yongxiu County of Jiangxi Province (江西省永修县涂埠镇). The victim reported that three computer monitors were missing. The police collected a finger prints on the package of a box of cigarettes found at the crime scene. Four years later, the police found that Fang Junjin’s finger print in the police finger print data base matched the finger print from the crime scene. On April 11, 2013, Fang , who was in Pumei Town, Yunxiao County of Fujian Province (福建漳州市云霄县莆美镇), was detained by the Jiangxi police and took back to Yongxiu County. (These two counties are in two different provinces which are more than 700 kilometers away from one another.)

o   The victim of the burglary was a criminal judge at the Yongxiu District Court. This is the criminal court where Fang was originally convicted.

o   After the fingerprint was collected, the police gave the cigarette box back to the victim and the victim discarded it. The police did not preserve the evidence.

o   The police did not find any other fingerprints of Fang at the crime scene.

o   Fang said that he was not tortured during police interrogation.

Procedural History: 

o   On April 24, 2013, Fang was formally arrested by the Yongxiu police.  

o   On September 3, 2013, Fang was accused of burglary by the Yongxiu District Procuratorate of Jiangxi Province.

o   On November 7, 2013, Fang was convicted of illegal intrusion in the residence of another (非法侵入住宅罪) and sentenced to 13-month imprisonment by the Yongxiu District Court.

o   On December 9, 2013, Fang’s case was remanded for retrial by the Jiujiang City (九江市) Intermediate Court upon Fang’s appeal. 

o   During the retrial, on March 11, 2014, the Yongxiu Disctrice Procuratorate withdrew the case on the grounds of insufficient evidence., the Yongxiu District Procuratorate decided to drop the charge (不予起诉决定).

o   On March 17, 2014, Fang was released from the Yongxiu County Detention Station.   

Date of the conviction:

o    November 7, 2013

Date the wrongful conviction was vacated/reversed: 

o   March 17, 2014 (Fang was incarcerated for 339 days.)

How was the wrongful conviction disclosed: 

o   Fang never confessed. Fang’s lawyer claimed his client was innocent through the case.

o   The Yongxiu District Procuratorate and the Yongxiu District Court realized the flaws during retrial.

Flaws:

o   Witness identification and testimony: Fang, his family, neighbors and friends all testified that at the time of the crime, Fang was in Pumei Town in Fujian Province taking care of Fang’s mother, who had just had surgery. Pumei Town is 793 km away from Tubu Town in Jiangxi Province where the crime was committed. But the police required Fang to provide videotapes for that period of time to prove his alibi.   

o   Forensic evidence: The fingerprint that matched Fang’s was found on the inside of the cigarette package box. But Fang had worked in a tobacco factory packing cigarettes in Yunxiao County of Fujian Province where this kind of cigarette is made.

o   Forced Confession: None.  

o   Errors on the prosecutor’s side: The procuratorate realized that the case was very weak when they granted the police application for approval of arrest, and changed the crime of burglary to the lesser crime of illegal intrusion of the residence of another. But the procuratorate changed the charge back to burglary again at the time of prosecution.  

o   Errors on the defense lawyer’s side (or not represented by a lawyer): None. Represented by a lawyer who presented a defense of innocence.

o   Errors on the court’s side: The victim is one of the judges at the Yongxiu District Court and shared the same office with the presiding judge in Fang’s case.  

o   Public opinion influence: The case had been highly publicized, which pressed the court to review the case.

o   Others: The original judgment did not address how Fang had access to the residence, how he transferred three computer monitors out of the residence or the whereabouts of the monitors.   

Information sources:

 http://zz.fjsen.com/2014-03/31/content_13790524_all.htm

http://news.163.com/14/0614/15/9UNAHM2I00014AEE.html

http://www.legalweekly.cn/index.php/Index/article/id/4798

http://news.sina.com.cn/o/2014-03-20/131129753199.shtml

http://zz.fjsen.com/2014-03/19/content_13716419_all.htm