China punished 27 officials over the wrongful execution of a teen, state news agency Xinhua reported late Sunday. Huugjilt, 18, was executed in 1996 on rape and murder charges, but his exoneration in 2014 highlighted the drawbacks in the ruling Communist Party-controlled legal system in China, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.
Huugjilt was convicted of raping and murdering a woman in 1996 at a factory’s public toilet in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. The murder reportedly took place during an anti-crime campaign and detectives in the region admitted they were pressured to secure a conviction. Using force to get confessions is thought to be widespread in the country.
In 2005, Zhao Zhihong, a serial rapist, confessed to the crime in 2005 after which he was convicted and sentenced to death. Huugjilt was exonerated in 2014. Feng Zhiming, one of the penalized officials, “was suspected of job-related crimes and was subject to further investigation," BBC reported, citing Xinhua. Twenty-six others were given "administrative penalties, including admonitions and record of demerit,” the report added.
At the time of Huugjilt's exoneration, his parents were given 30,000 yuan ($4,850) in compensation. Last January, China announced that it would bar targets for arrests and convictions. However, it still has the world’s highest number of executions per capita, with the nonprofit Dui Hua Foundation estimating at least 4,000 executions in 2011.