Chinese wrongly jailed for 11 years given $96,000

Chinese wrongly jailed for 11 years given $96,000

A Chinese man who spent 11 years in jail after being tortured into confessing to the murder of a man who wasn't even dead has been given $96,000 in government compensation, state media reported Thursday.

Zhao Zuohai, 57, received the money Thursday morning from judicial officials in Shangqiu City in central Henan province, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Zhao was recently released from prison after the man he was convicted of killing more than a decade ago reappeared in their home village last month, AP reported.

After his release, Zhao said he had been forced to confess to murder because police had beaten him up during interrogations and made him stay awake for days.

"It was better to be dead than alive," he told the Beijing News.

The incident has raised concerns about torture, which is believed to be widely used by Chinese police in criminal cases.

In 1999, Zhao Zuohai was arrested after another man, Zhao Zhenshang, now 58, disappeared after the two had an argument, according to earlier reports. The two men are not related. He was convicted of murder after a headless body believed to be Zhao Zhenshang was found, state media reported.

Police and court officials are investigating the case and have promised to penalize those responsible for the wrong conviction. Two police officers have been detained on suspicion of torturing Zhao to get him to confess and a third one is at large, Xinhua said.

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 laborers.

China has taken gradual steps to address particular instances of torture. 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.

"Confessions extracted through torture are unreliable," Shangqiu's police chief Xu Dagang told Xinhua on Wednesday. "Police officers should learn to handle criminal cases in a more intelligent and scientific manner."

The anti-torture measures follow other cases involving people being imprisoned because of forced confessions.

In 2005, government worker She Xianglin was compensated $67,000 after serving 11 years in prison for murdering his wife. He was freed when his wife later returned to their hometown. Xianglin said he had been tortured into making a false confession.

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