Man jailed 8 years for murder released after victim found alive and well

Zhao Zuohai 
By: Sarah Weiss 

An innocent man was jailed for 8 years after being convicted of a murder that never occurred, according to press reports in China.

A man convicted of murder, has been released from prison, after the man who he allegedly murdered was found alive and well.

Zhao Zuohai had an argument with Zhao Zhenshang in October 1997 and subsequently disappeared from his home in Zhecheng County, Shangqiu City.

According to a local newspaper an argument broke out between the two neighbors over money and a woman, Du Jinhui. After Zhao Zhenshang saw Zhao Zuohai staying with Du, on October 31, 1997, he had hit Zhao Zuohai in the head, before fleeing the village to avoid further attacks.

He had not visited his home town during the last ten years, as he was too embarrassed to return home, because he had not earned enough money over that time, Zuohai told news reporters.

In October 1999, a decapitated body was found in the village, and Zhao Zhenshang was arrested as a suspected murderer of Zhao Zuohai.

In 2002 he was convicted and sentenced to death but the sentence was later reduced twice, eventually to 29 years in prison.

While in prison, his wife remarried, two of his four children were adopted and the other two left the village to become migrant workers. Zhao Zuohai returned to the village on April 30, 2010 and on May 7 the Higher People's Court confirmed his identity and acquitted Zhao Zhenshang of the murder.

Local officials visited Zuohai and apologized to him for the wrongful conviction. They reached the agreement for compensation in the amount of $100,000. Zuohai said he was satisfied with the amount.