From the Global Times
Here’s an incredulous real-life story that will likely make you go “WTF!?!” long after reading it:
In 1997, two friends in Henan named Zhao Zuohai and Zhao Zhenshang had a vicious fight in which physical blows were reportedly exchanged. The latter then disappeared. Two years later, a headless body was found in a well, believed to be Zhao Zhenshang. Authorities went after Zhao Zuohai, who after detainment confessed to the murder. He was given a suspended death sentence, which was later commuted to 29 years in jail. After serving almost 11 years of that sentence, guess who waltzes back into town?
Perhaps ‘waltz’ is the wrong word — Zhao Zhenshang is now partially paralyzed, and only returned to his village on April 30 to seek welfare payments. Claiming he took off out of fear that he had killed Zhao Zuohai the night they argued, he expressed no remorse that his former friend has languished in jail for a decade: “He had such a bad temper. He needed a lesson somewhere, somehow.”
The freed Zhao will reportedly receive US$ 45,000 in compensation. This hasn’t stopped questions being raised about the nature of confessions in China, and the role police play in extracting false declarations of guilt through torture. Zhao Zuohai’s relatives have said he was tortured into confessing; his ex-wife (who remarried after his imprisonment) claimed that police locked her in a factory and beat her until she ‘confessed’ that evidence found around the body in the well had come from her home.
A formal investigation into the wrongful conviction has been launched. According to China Daily, many of the officials involved in trying the case have been promoted since then. We’ll wait to see whether heads roll.
And another question among many — who the heck was found in the well?
Watch the sordid story below (in Chinese):