Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Picking Up The Pieces

A Chinese farmer, who was wrongly jailed for 11 years for murder he did not commit, has been acquitted after the victim 'came back to life'.

Zhao Zuohai, 57, was recently released from prison after the man he was convicted of killing more than a decade ago reappeared in their home village alive on April 30. The Henan Higher People's Court in China declared Zhao Zuohai, innocent on Saturday after confirming Zhenshang's identity on Friday, May 7.

A press conference was held on Sunday - The court official said Zuohai was declared innocent, released from the prison and helped him settled down.

After being tortured into confessing to the murder of a man who is not even dead, he has been given 650,000 yuan (US$96,000) in government compensation, state media reported on Thursday. He is now asking for more compensation.
Zhao Zuohai, 57, has asked for another 650,000 yuan in compensation after he received the same amount last Thursday morning from judicial officials in Shangqiu City in central Henan province, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

He said the money awarded to him earlier was not enough to cover his losses - Spending 11 years behind bars and returning home to find his wife remarried and his children adopted by other families.
After he went to prison, Zhao's wife remarried and two of his children were adopted by her new husband. The other two children left home to work as migrant labourers.
Zhao Zuohai showing the cheque with the compensation money (Photo: China News Service)
Zhao Zuohai showing the cheque with the compensation money (Photo: China News Service)

Family members said Zhao agreed to the initial compensation because court officials knocked on his door at midnight and persuaded him to sign documents without clarifying certain details.The next day, Zhao regretted signing the papers because he considered the amount "too little", they said.
Yuan Hegang, spokesman for the Henan Higher People's Court said the compensation was in line with the State Compensation Law including 450,000 yuan for wrongful jail for 4,019 days, and 200,000 yuan as allowances to support Zhao’s future.
Wang Jianmin, Party chief of the political and legislative affairs committee of Shangqiu city, shaking hands with Zhao Zuohai.
Wang Jianmin, Party chief of the political and legislative affairs committee of Shangqiu city, shaking hands with Zhao Zuohai.
 "It was better to be dead than alive," he told Beijing News.

After his release, Zhao said he had been forced to confess to murder, beaten at the head with a long stick, asked to drink something that made him really sleepy and set off fireworks above his head. He was tortured during the interrogation until he confessed to the crime.
Police made him stay awake for days.

Zhao's ex-wife said she was tortured by the police for about a month in 1999 when the headless body was found. The police kept asking her if she knew Zhao Zuohai killed the man.
She was beaten up when admitted she did have any knowledge about it.

The incident has raised concerns about torture, which is believed to be widely used by Chinese police in criminal cases. China has taken gradual steps to address particular instances of torture.

The local police, court officials and prosecuting authorities are investigating the case and have promised to penalise those responsible for the wrong conviction.
2 police officers have been detained on suspicion of torturing Zhao to get him to confess and a third one is at large.
3 judges who were in charge of Zhao's case, have been suspended and are being investigated.

Last year, Beijing pledged to clamp down on inmate abuse, and nearly 1,800 policemen were suspended, according to a report released on the Ministry of Public Security website.
China has also released guidelines that identify specific acts of torture for which police can be prosecuted in an apparent attempt to reign in such abuses.

In 1997, both Zhao Zuohai and Zhao Zhenshang had a fight at their hometown in Shangqiu. Zhenshang went missing after the fight.
After 4 months, his nephew lodged a police report suspecting his uncle had been killed by Zuohai.
Zuohai was detained to assist investigations but released 20 days later.

A probe into the false murder charge has been launched, China media reported.

In 1999, Zuohai was convicted of murdering his neighbour after a highly-decomposed headless body believed to be Zhao Zhenshang was found.

He was sentenced to death with a 2-year reprieve by the Intermediate People's Court in Shangqiu in 2002.
After being missing for 13 years, Zhenshang, 58, returned home on April 30 this year.

Police have returned to the well where the headless body was found and began their probe to re-establish the man's identity.

Worrying of having killed Zuohai the farmer, Zhensheng, a petty trader, told the villagers that he ran away after injuring Zuohai in the fight 13 years ago in the wee hours on his bicycle, with only 400 yuan and a quilt.
He did not know anything that happened to Zuohai until after he went back.

He said he decided to return home after suffering from a minor hemiplegia (paralysis of one side of the body).         


Mr. Stupid said...

This is so sad. 13 years of imprisonment for a crime he never committed. I wish they find and punish everyone who were behind his arrest.
Torture is really bad. It made an innocent man agree to a crime he had never done.

Have good day, Ummie:)

Ummie said...

For one case reported, there's many other out there not noticed & went unreported.
We just have to feel for these people - It doesn't cost us $.

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