Freed from prison six months ago, a woman from Yunnan is seeking damages for wrongful imprisonment from the provincial government. Qian Renfeng (钱仁风) spent nearly half of her life behind bars for the murder of a two year-old, but was released in December 2015 after an appellate court threw out her conviction. She is asking for compensation totaling 9.55 million yuan.
Qian's lawyer, who is mentioned in online reports only by his surname, Yang, filed a compensation petition over the weekend. The document is wide-ranging in scope and, because it asks for the Yunnan government to admit wrongdoing publicly, is also quite bold. Not only is Qian asking to be paid a large amount of money, she is also demanding an apology from the province's highest court, which, according to her petition, "deprived her of her human rights". In addition, she is asking media outlets China Central Television, People's Daily and "any other mainstream news sources who reported on her conviction" to apologize publicly and retract their stories.
As if those requests were not daring enough, lawyer Yang and his client detailed how they came to a compensatory figure of nearly ten million yuan. Qian, they say, was incarcerated for 7.272 million minutes, and expects to be paid the sum of one yuan for each one. The remainder of her claim is made up of wages she theoretically would earned if not for the fact she was in prison for 13 years.
Qian was first arrested in 2002 while working as a nanny in northeast Yunnan's Qiaojia County (巧家县). Three children under four years of age were rushed to a local hospital after lunch while under Qian's care. One of them, a two year-old, died while receiving treatment. The other two recovered following prolonged stays in the hospital.
Prosecutors in the case portrayed Qian as a disgruntled employee who took out frustration with her boss by poisoning the three children. She was convicted of adding tetramine — an ingredient in rat poison banned in almost all countries outside of China — to the toddlers' milk powder. Because she was only seventeen at the time of her sentencing, Qian was spared the death penalty.
Following years of denied appeals, the Yunnan Provincial High Court agreed to review the evidence presented in her original case early last year. The tribunal then called for a retrial, which resulted in a judicial reversal that called into question almost all major points put forth by prosecutors during Qian's trial. She was released from prison on December 21, 2015.
Although Qian has already exhibited a penchant for beating long odds, her compensation petition faces an uphill battle. Not only is she going about the process in an extremely public manner, she is also appealing to the very court that once sentenced her to life imprisonment.
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