Wrongly jailed man wants more cash

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A villager who was wrongly jailed for 11 years for murder is now asking for another 650,000 yuan ($96,000) in compensation after he received the same amount last Thursday.

Zhao Zuohai, 57, said that 650,000 yuan, which the Intermediate People's Court in Shangqiu, Henan province, awarded to him in compensation last week, was not enough to cover his loss - spending 11 years behind bars and returning home to find his wife remarried and his children adopted by other families.

Family members said Zhao agreed to the initial compensation because court officials knocked on his door at midnight and persuaded him to sign documents without clarifying certain details. The next day, Zhao regretted signing the papers, because he considered the amount "too little", they said.

Yuan Hegang, spokesman for the Henan Higher People's Court, had explained the compensation was in line with the State Compensation Law, including 450,000 yuan for wrongful jail for 4,019 days, and 200,000 yuan as allowances to support Zhao's future.

Zhao later said that he would ask for further compensation for mental loss, which had not been considered.

However, the current State Compensation Law does not stipulate compensation for mental loss and the amended law, which says a "certain amount" of compensation for mental loss should be paid, does not take effect until December.

"Based on the current law, I think it's unlikely that Zhao will get the additional compensation," said Pu Zhiqiang, a Beijing-based lawyer.

"But I agree he should be paid more considering his long-term imprisonment and suffering," he said.

Zhao spent 11 years in jail until the man he allegedly murdered turned up alive on April 30. Zhao was later declared innocent and acquitted.

After his acquittal, Zhao said he was beaten during interrogations and tortured until he confessed to the crime.

The local police, court and prosecuting authorities are investigating the case and have promised to penalize those responsible for the wrong conviction.

Three judges, who were in charge of Zhao's case, have been suspended from their posts and are being investigated and two police officers have been detained on suspicion of torturing Zhao.

The Supreme People's Court also issued an announcement on Thursday, urging courts nationwide to enforce the State Compensation Law and make sure compensation is fully paid immediately after the ruling.

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