'Murderer' Freed After Victim Shows Up Alive
Chinese man spent 10 years in prison
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 10, 2010 11:27 AM CDT
Inmates work in a sewing workshop in a Chinese prison in this file photo.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – A Chinese man has been cleared of murder, thanks to the sudden reappearance of his "victim." Zhao Zuohai was sent to prison nearly 10 years ago after his neighbor, Zhao Zhenshang, whom he'd recently had a fight with, disappeared. Police assumed he'd been murdered, later identifying a decomposing headless corpse as his. But the real Zhao Zhenshang recently showed up in his village looking for welfare support, the BBC reports. Ironically, he fled because he feared he'd killed Zouhai in the fight.

Zouhai was reportedly convicted mainly on the strength of his confession, which, according to his brother, police extracted by forcing him to drink chili-tainted water and setting off fireworks over his head. He was originally sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted to 29 years. While he was locked up his wife remarried and many of his children were adopted.