Odd News

Teenager jailed for 212 days for namesake

Updated: 2010-12-21 16:01

By Zuo Likun (

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Parents, think up a unique name for your child, lest he be jailed for his namesake.

Teenager jailed for 212 days for namesake
Student Wang Qi holds his release notice. [Photo/China Daily Youth] 

A teenager student in Bole city of Northwest China's Xinjiang was jailed two years ago for a robbery committed by a namesake. Adding irony to absurdity, he met the namesake's accomplice in jail, who was stunned by the mistake, leading to a redress last year, the China Youth Daily reported on Monday.

The student's family won a state compensation of 23,000 yuan ($3,445) last year. But they said they would still appeal the case to a higher court for the 212-day ordeal that included abuses and threats in custody as well as public humiliations at schools.

The newspaper used the pseudonym Wang Qi to protect the teenager.

The gaffe dated to March 2008, when Wang's dropout classmate Ma Qinglin was arrested for a break-in robbery in Bole city. He at first confessed to some lesser crimes, telling the police that he gave some of his stolen jewelry to Wang to sell.

Thus Wang was taken in for questioning in April. He admitted the wrongdoings. But since Wang was still an underage student, 15 at the time, and selling stolen goods wasn't a serious offense, he was released after his father paid a fine.

That seemed to be the end for the student Wang, but in fact his troubles were just beginning. As the probe continues, Ma admitted that he once robbed a student of his cell phone and a 10 yuan bill with Wang Qi. Here Ma somehow failed to mention that it was another Wang Qi, a then-security guard in West Xinjiang.

However, the police assumed that it must be the student Wang Qi. 

In September 2008, the student Wang was taken away in cuffs from an Internet café. For three days, he tried to explain that he never robbed anything. He realized the police must have gotten the wrong guy, since he knew Ma had a namesake friend.

The police just didn't believe him.

"They thought I was lying. So they repeatedly threatened me, bullied me, choked my neck and beat me. I was bruised all over my body," Wang said to China Youth Daily.

Instead, a police officer, taking advantage of the student's ignorance, read out Ma's testimony and asked him to repeat it, which was then recorded as Wang's testimony.

Still, Wang wouldn't admit to the robbery charges, until the fourth day in custody, when he was told that if he confessed, he could go home.

"I knew nothing about law," Wang said. "I didn't know how serious it was until the trial."

On Nov 30, 2008, the student Wang Qi was sentenced to two years in prison for a crime he never committed.

After the trial he was transferred to another jail, where he met Ma Qinglin, the dropout classmate, who had accidentally implicated him but now held the power to free him. An internal report about the mistake was submitted. Only after that, the student Wang was allowed to meet with his parents. When told about the mistake, his parents, stunned, immediately sought a redress.

He was released after a retrial, a day after April Fools' Day in 2009. By then, he had been in custody for 212 days. The real robber Wang was later arrested and sentenced. Responsible police officers were given internal criticism notices. Two of them were denied three-month bonuses and suspended for discipline training.

But for the student Wang, the damage had already been done.

While in custody, Wang was handed a confession letter and ordered to read it out loud on public stages at three schools as a deterrent message to other students.

"I've been stealing since I was a child," he read, describing all the despicable things he never did, weeping in grief. The police interpreted that as a sign of "heartfelt remorse."

"Everybody was laughing at me. I really wanted to die then," Wang said.

According to judicial experts early this year, Wang still suffers from "traumatic stress disorder."


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