A Chinese high court has issued an extremely rare public apology to 19 people wrongfully convicted of financial crimes.

The apology from the People's High Court for the eastern province of Anhui appeared in a local newspaper on Monday. The court said it wished to help restore the reputations of the group members, all of whom were imprisoned in 2012 on charges of illegal fundraising.

Chinese courts are controlled by the ruling Communist Party and cases that go to trial almost always result in convictions. Political considerations, reliance on confessions rather than evidence, and pressure to solve homicides and other major cases frequently contribute to wrongful convictions, including those resulting in the death penalty.

Some cases have been overturned with restitution paid, but courts have hardly ever apologized.