Man Who Spent 19 Years On Death Row Hugs Mother After His Case Finally Overturned In China
A man who spent almost two decades on death row after being wrongfully convicted of murdering two children in 1993 finally got to hug his mother after his case was overturned this week.
Jiangxi Zhang Yuhuan, from China, spent almost 27 years in prison and had been on death row since 2001 after admitting to the murders. However, he also said police had blackmailed, threatened and tortured him into confessing.
In emotional footage, the 52-year-old could be seen crying inconsolably as he hugged his ex-wife and his 83-year-old mother in their rural Zhangjia Village of the Jinxian County in southern China’s Jiangxi Province.
You can watch the moment they are reunited below:
In the footage, Zhang’s ex-wife Song Xiaonv, became so overcome with emotion she collapsed and had to be taken to hospital for treatment. Xiaonv supported Zhang throughout his imprisonment, but the couple decided to divorce in 2001 because they were unsure whether or not he would ever be released.
At another point in the video, Zhang can be seen crying and embracing his youngest son, who was only a toddler when he was arrested. His eldest son was four years old at the time.
Since his arrest, Zhang and his family never gave up hope and repeatedly appealed against the court’s ruling, with the 52-year-old finally proving his innocence on Tuesday, August 4, when the Jiangxi Provincial High People’s Court withdrew its suspended death sentence.
The court made the U-turn after questioning the authenticity of Zhang’s confessions, according to a statement. Tian Ganlin, the judge responsible for the case at the high court, added that there was no evidence to show the man had killed the children.
‘After we reviewed the materials, we have found there is no direct evidence that can prove Zhang’s conviction,’ he said, as per Pear Video. ‘So we accepted the prosecutors’ suggestion and have declared Zhang innocent.’
The high court said relevant officials from the court had apologised to Zhang for the wrongful conviction and had informed him of his rights to apply for compensation from the state.
His lawyer Wang Fei, said they were in the process of discussing an acceptable amount of money to payout, adding they planned to hold those who had committed judicial miscarriages in the case legally responsible.
Wang told Shangyou News after the retrial (translated):
I am not just defending Zhang Yuhuan, but the numerous Zhang Yuhuans in the entire society. If you think about it, faced with cruel, forced interrogations, anybody could become the next Zhang Yuhuan.
I suggest the court provide the information of the inspectors and those who participated in the forced confession to supervisory authorities to be dealt with.
Zhang was arrested in October 1993, two days after the bodies of two boys aged four and six were found in a pond in the Zhangjia Village. As the boys’ neighbour, Zhang was identified as the main suspect, despite there being no evidence to suggest he played any part in the murders.
In January 1995, Zhang was found guilty of intentional homicide and was handed a suspended death sentence. However, just two months later the provincial high court demanded the intermediate court retry the case due to ‘unclear facts and insufficient evidence’.
But a retrial was not held until November 2001 for unknown reasons, and the intermediate court stood by its original ruling. Zhang appealed against the decision, but the court rejected his petition.
While serving his prison sentence for almost three decades, Zhang insisted on his innocence and his family fought tirelessly to help get him another hearing. Eventually, in March last year, the high court decided to reopen the case.
A trial was held on July 9 this year and on August 4, the court retracted Zhang’s suspended death sentence and declared him a free man. He returned home that same day.
It remains unclear who is responsible for the boys’ deaths 27 years ago.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.
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