Comparative Perspectives on Criminal Justice in China
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Comparative Perspectives on Criminal Justice in China

Edited by Mike McConville and Eva Pils

Comparative Perspectives on Criminal Justice in China is an anthology of chapters on the contemporary criminal justice system in mainland China, bringing together the work of recognised scholars from China and around the world.
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Chapter 4: China’s tortuous path toward ending torture in criminal investigations

Ira Belkin


On May 21, 2010, Chief Judge Zhang Liyong of the Henan Provincial High Court left his office in the provincial capital of Zhengzhou and travelled to a remote peasant village. There, in front of national television cameras, he bowed deeply three times and personally offered his apologies to Zhao Zuohai, a poor farmer, for his unjust murder conviction (Xinhua Net, 2010). Thus, a ‘month of reflection’ in all of the ‘judicial organs’ – the courts, the prosecutors’ offices and the police of Henan Province – came to a close. This rare public display of contrition by Chinese officialdom was occasioned by this embarrassing case of the Chinese justice system convicting an innocent man of a murder that had never occurred. There was no gainsaying the wrongfulness of the conviction and the innocence of Zhao Zuohai. This was not a case of a guilty party getting off on a technicality.

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