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Chinese Man Freed After ‘Murder Victim’ Turns Up Alive 10 Years Later

Posted by Author on May 11, 2010

AOL News, USA –

(May 10) — A Chinese farmer knew he’d had nothing to do with the murder of his neighbor, but he confessed, relatives say, after being tortured by police for up to a month.

Now, after almost 10 years in jail, Zhao Zuohai is a free man again — because the villager he was convicted of killing turned up alive and looking for welfare support.

A court in the central province of Henan province has overturned the conviction, the China Daily newspaper reported today. Zhao Zuohai stands to collect $45,000 in compensation, paid at a rate of $16 for each day he spent in prison.

Zhao Zuohai fell out with his neighbor, Zhao Zhenshang, in 1997, over borrowed money. The two men, who are not related, got into a violent fight. Reports say that Zhao Zhenshang fled after the fight, fearing he had killed his neighbor.

A nephew finally reported Zhao Zhenshang missing. Then, after a headless body was found in the village in 1999, Zhao Zuohai was arrested.

He was convicted of the missing man’s murder in 2002 and sentenced to death, a verdict that was later commuted to 29 years’ prison. After the conviction Zhao Zuohai’s wife left him, remarried, and gave up two of their four children for adoption.

Zhao Zuohai’s sister reportedly told the China Daily that her brother showed her a scar where the police had hit him on the head with a gun. His ex-wife said he had been tortured for about a month after the headless body was found.

His brother said the police had forced him to drink chili-tainted water and exploded fireworks over his head to get him to confess, the BBC reported.

Zhao Zhenshang, who is suffering from paralysis brought on by a nerve disease, returned to the village on April 30. He said he had not been aware that his former neighbor had been jailed. But he showed no remorse when he learned of his plight.

“He had such a bad temper,” he was reportedly quoted as saying by the Beijing News. “He needed a lesson somewhere, somehow.”

An investigation has been ordered into the conviction. According to various accounts, the use of torture to obtain confessions in criminal cases is widespread in China, but Beijing has reportedly taken steps to end inmate abuse and crack down on any police officers involved.

A similar case to that of Zhao Zuohai’s occurred in China 2005, when a man served 11 years for the murder of his wife before she showed up alive. The accused husband said he had been tortured into making a confession. He was given $67,000 in compensation.

AOL News

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