Anhui Higher People's Court in east China, has exonerated five people who were convicted of murder 18 years ago.
Zhou Jikun, Zhou Jiahua, Zhou Zaichun, Zhou Zhengguo and Zhou Zaihua were sentenced by Fuyang City Intermediate People's Court for murdering a woman called Zhou Suhua, and assaulting four other people in her family on Aug. 25, 1996.
The Higher People's Court upheld the sentence in October, 2000. The five continued to protest their innocence and appealed for a retrial. The higher court reviewed the case files, and ruled on Wednesday that there has been a miscarriage of justice as prosecutors lacked sufficient evidence to make the convictions.
Testimonies of key witnesses showed discrepancies, the court said.
By January of 2018, all five had finished their jail terms and had been discharged from prison. Zhou Jikun served 21 years, the longest.
The court has informed the five, saying that they are entitled for state compensation, and advised police to reopen the investigation.