(Picture from People’s Daily: “Resurrected” “victim” Zhao Zhenshang)
Zhao Zuohai, a 57-year-old resident of Zhaolu village in Henan Province, was recently declared innocent by the Henan Provincial Higher People’s Court on Sunday, May 9. He had been in prison since 2002.
In October 1997, Zhao Zuohai and his neighbor Zhao Zhenshang had gotten into an argument, after which Zhao Zhenshang went missing. It wasn’t until four months later that a member of Zhao Zhenshang’s family reported that he went missing.
A headless body was found in the village in May 1999, after which Zhao Zuohai was arrested. He was convicted for the murder of Zhao Zhenshang in 2002.
On April 30, the alleged victim, whose identity was confirmed by the Henan Higher People’s Court, returned to the village. Zhao Zhenshang, now 58, is paralyzed and, having no money for treatment, was forced to go back to his village for welfare money.
Zhao Zhenshang showed no compunction when told about the fate of his former neighbor. He stated that he left the village after attacking Zhao Zuohai, afraid that he might have killed him. Zhao Zhenshang then remarked that his former neighbor was too easily prone to violence and needed to be taught a lesson.
Zhao Zhenshang said his relationship with Zhao Zuohai used to be amicable until a quarrel about borrowed money caused their friendship to dissipate. It was also said that Zhao Zuohai was having an affair with a married woman. For these reasons, Zhao Zhenshang stated that his former neighbor deserved this relative wake-up-call.
Zhao Zuolai and his wife were both subjected to police brutality and torture, which is stated as the reason behind why Zhao Zuohai confessed to the murder.
Zhao Zuohai had a wife and four children at the time of his conviction. Since he entered prison in 2002, his wife has remarried and taken two children with her. Other families have since adopted the remaining two children.
Since being released, authorities are set on offering Zhao Zuohai compensation for the years he spent in prison, unable to work. The State Compensation Law says an appropriate amount of compensation is equal to the average daily salary of a State employee in the previous year (112 yuan or $16 USD/day). Zhao Zuohai will receive at least 306,000 yuan ($45,000 USD) for losing his freedom from December 2002.