Ten years ago, somewhere in central China’s Henan province, a gruff row breaks out between Zhao Zhensheng and Zhao Zuohui. The reason for the ferocious scuffle is unknown. However, the weapons of choice are known; a fierce hatchet fight transpired and purportedly Zhensheng took some hefty blows. Evidence of hatchet duals is scarce to this author.
A year after this sketchy scuffle, a headless corpse was found in a village and oddly enough the authorities arrested Zhao Zhensheng for the murder of Zhao Zuohui. It’s also unknown how they were able to tie this headless body to the original hatchet fight. One can’t help but wonder whether there were any eye-witnesses at this hatchet battle?
The Chinese police were able to elicit an iffy confession out of poor Zhao, after forcing him to drink chili water and setting off fireworks over his head to scare the poor man out of his wits. It was a slipshod confession secured by way of duress only. While very corrupt, the Chinese court system favors this method of ‘justice’, so that cases will have the appearance of closing.
This sensational case is bringing this fallacy in the Chinese justice system to light. There are many other cases of falsely accused people, such as She Xianglin, that are now public record. Yet the paltry Zhao Zhensheng rotted away in a Chinese jail for ten full years. Zhao narrowly escaped execution for ‘the hatchet incident’, but eventually his sentence was commuted to 19 years. That’s still a long stretch in the Big House, by anyone’s measure.
A darkly footnote to this bizarre account is that the misbegotten Zhao lost his wife to another man while he did his time, and get this, his children were adopted by other families. He lost it all, only sweaty memories remain under a hot lamp, the flash of fireworks, and the bitter wormwood flavor of chili water in his steaming red-hot mouth!
Now for the upshot to our account, teeming with incomprehensibility as it may: the supposed victim, Zhao Zuohui, who had lost his head, returned to his village on May 2 to try to claim welfare. Ten years ago, according to Zhao, he fled the crime scene since he believed that he had killed the other Zhao. Where he was hiding out and what was going through his mangled mind all those years is unknown?
So now one wonders just who the real identity is of the headless body that was discovered one day? The killer of that wretched soul got off Scott-free. Perhaps there are many serial-killers in China too? That’s a possibility. Hopefully, once Zhao gets out of the slammer he won’t run into the other Zhao ever again. The paths of those two need not cross ever again.
And I’m most curious just how many other victims there are simply doing hard time in a Chinese jail for crimes they never committed? Maybe thousands? But we should talk, just look at how many wrongly persecuted people are getting out of jail right now as a result of DNA technology exonerating them of the dastardly deeds they were once accused of!
The lion share of my curiosity lies in the question of how frequently do hatchet fights break out in China? Are there gangs of thugs roaming around the countryside engaging in hatchet warfare? If there is that is primitive. The unsolved case of Lizzy Borden’s parents getting hacked to pieces is the only case I know of in the U.S. that involves a hatchet. Statistics of hatchet homicides are scarcer than finding headless corpses-they spring up each and every day in Ciudad Juarez!