TRUE CRIME DOCUMENTARY
“But going back to the subject of Chinese cruelty, overwhelmingly evident every day everywhere in the country, a few samples of regular practices are illustrative. For instance, a man who falls overboard from a boat not manned by members of his family or close friends need not expect to be picked up. Falling overboard, it may be mentioned, is not an infrequent occurrence among Chinese. Almost any veteran foreigner who has traveled up and down the rivers of China will be able to recount one or more cases where he has personally observed a man drown without efforts to save him by other Chinese a few feet away on shore or in a boat. …
“An American Consul related to me a personally witnessed occurrence at a place up the Yangtze where he was stationed, one that strikes a westerner as incredible, but which would not impress a native Chinese as anything remarkable. It happened that a sampan loaded down with a cargo of live pigs, and crowded also with Chinese, was caught in a treacherous current and overturned a little distance from the shore. The Chinese and pigs aboard were spilled out into the water. A number of other Chinese along the shore, seeing the upset, immediately put out to the scene in their own boats, and began greedily picking up the live pigs swimming about. The drowning and pleading humans who wailed to be taken aboard were knocked on the head as fast as they swam to the arriving boats, and were all washed downstream and drowned. The Chinese minute men of the sampans returned in high glee with their unexpected catch of fresh pork and life went on as usual. …
“Once I was present at a Chinese dinner, the main guests at which were several high ranking officers in one of the Chinese royal armies. Those officers were vastly above the common run. As I recall, two or more of them had been educated in Japan, up till recently the main training ground for educated Chinese officers. Several of the Chinese present spoke English and as my knowledge of Mandarin was feeble, they put in an explanation of the conversation now and then for me in English. It appeared that in a recent campaign a group of higher officers had been captured, and a colloquy followed to decide how they should die. The means finally chosen was that each of the captured officers should be forced to eat a handful of loose needles. After this relish, they were lined up for their captors to watch the effects of this diet. They died in about two hours.”
Ways that are Dark, Ralph Townsend
TRANSLATED AND TAKEN FROM CHINESE SOURCE
In 2003, Senior Zhang (“Zhang Gaoping”) was 38 years old, previously divorced and just recently remarried in 2002. In order to make a living, he brought a truck to do inter-province transportation of goods, similar to inter-state truck drivers in the US. He hired his brother’s son, Junior Zhang (“Zhang Hui”), who was 27 years old at the time, as his assistant. Junior Zhang was young and aggressive, and had previously been arrested and imprisoned for aggravated assault. After serving his sentence of one year and a half, he swore to change his way of life and became obedient and hardworking. He had a girlfriend and they were ready to marry.
They were seemingly ordinary men living their ordinary lives, but disaster soon fell and their lives were changed forever.
May 18 2003, as usual, the Zhangs planned to drive their truck from their provincial home of Anhui to Shanghai for business. Due to lack of transportation in their provincial home, many of their fellow villagers would hitch-hike their truck to go to big cities. Sometimes the hitch-hikers would give them some small gifts as payments, but most other times, due to their close connections as fellow villagers, the Zhangs never accepted any payment. The Zhangs were in fact quite famous in their hometown, since they were the only ones who owned a truck around that area, and as their reputation grew, as well as their reputation for hospitality, more and more people started to hitchhike their truck. And on this day, an 18 year old girl from the same village found them through connections with relatives to hitchhike their truck to go to Hangzhou.
According to the recollection of Senior Zhang, at the time, because they were actually going to Shanghai, and going to Hangzhou would require them to make unnecessary adjustments to their travel arrangements, initially they were hesitant to let her hitchhike, but, after seeing that she was just a girl, they decided to send her to the East Train Station of Hangzhou, at which place her uncle was supposed to pick her up.
Once they were at the East Train Station, they found out, the uncle had changed plans and decided not come to pick her up. After contacting this uncle, the girl was told to call a taxi and go to the place on her own. Being kindhearted, in addition to being fellow villagers from the same province, the Zhangs decided to drive her closer to where she was supposed to be, and, on the way, brought her dinner before sending her off. In order to be extra careful, the Zhangs wrote down for the girl their phone numbers, including their work phone, their home phone, and the phone of the Zhang’s supervisor.
At 5 AM, the Zhangs arrived at Shanghai for their business.
“The last time I saw the girl was looking at the silhouette of her back, standing by the sidewalk, waiting for taxi.” Senior Zhang recalled.
Which taxi did she get on? No one will ever know.
For the next ten years, both senior Zhang and junior Zhang expressed some remorse and guilt. “Only if we had watched her get on the taxi, then write down the plate number of the taxi. But at the time we were in a hurry to go to Shanghai. Being late would incur penalties.”
But everything is all too late.
The next day, around 10 AM, the girl’s corpse was discovered.
An old man strolling around Qianjiang Third Bridge, in the Xihu district of Hangzhou, found a completely naked girl, lying face down in the shallow water in a sewage pump. The police were called and after examining her body and finding tearing of the hymen, it was determined that she was raped before being killed.
Because the number she called around 1 AM was to the work number of Zhang, and because the Zhangs were the last two persons who had seen the girl alive, the police firmly placed their suspicion on Zhang.
May 23 2003, after their return trip from Shanghai, the police arrested the Zhangs at their homes in Anhui on suspicion of rape and murder.
After seven days of interrogation, the Zhangs confessed that, indeed, they were the ones who raped the girl on their truck, then killed her and dumped her corpse.
The police actually did not have any direct evidence. At the crime scene, they did not find the fingerprints of Zhang on the clothes of the girl, the backpack and other luggage of the girl, or any part of the body of the girl. Also, they did not find any sperm inside the vaginal tract of the girl’s corpse. It was conjectured that the sewage water might have washed away any potential incriminating evidence such as Zhang’s sperm.
Zhang’s truck had also been thoroughly searched and there was no evidence of any bodily fluid, any bodily hair, or even any evidence of fighting that had occurred inside the truck.
Even without any direct evidence, the police was still convinced that the Zhangs were indeed the ones who committed the crime. Why? Because they had the time and the opportunity to commit the crime. But the Zhangs insisted they didn’t. The last phone call the girl made was at 1 AM in the morning. But Zhang said they sent the girl off at 1:30 AM, and then hurriedly went to Shanghai, arriving in Shanghai at five in the morning.
“There are many people who can testify! We arrived Shanghai at 5 AM. At 1:30 AM, she was still alive!” Senior Zhang protested.
It was also possible to calculate based on the speed of their truck the approximate location of the Zhangs relative to Shanghai, and the conclusion was that it was not possible for the Zhangs to have the time to commit the crime, were they able to arrive Shanghai at 5 AM.
But the police did not believe the Zhangs were in Shanghai at 5 AM, and they had even conducted an experiment by driving from Hangzhou to Shanghai with the same model of truck that Zhang had. The attorney for Zhangs said during the trial, that that was not the case, because Zhang’s truck was over load limit at the time. “It’s equivalent to a man walking while carrying 200 pounds of equipment. The experiment you conducted was with an empty truck, while my client’s truck was dangerously over-loaded. So the truck speed was very very slow. ”
But, unfortunately, the police did not take it into consideration.
At the time, the Zhangs and their attorney had also demanded that the police take into evidence the surveillance camera footage at the highway entrance station from Hangzhou to Shanghai. This would also be able to exonerate the Zhangs, according to Zhang’s attorney, since it would show that the Zhangs did not have the time to commit the crime. Again, this plead for evidence had been denied.
Nine years later, the attorney Li, who was able to finally exonerate the Zhangs, said that, “The police never bothered to look for the camera footage. There were lots and lots of surveillance cameras along the high way from Hangzhou to Shanghai. If the police had bothered to take the time to look for those footage, it wouldn’t have ended this way.” Attorney Li himself had tried to locate the footage, but since it had been nine years, the footage had long been erased.
The second evidence that the police used was from another prisoner by the name of Yuan. According to Yuan, he heard senior Zhang confessing to him the crime and Zhang even voluntarily wrote down a confession.
“This confession was not obtained through torture.” The District Attorney said during the trial.
In March of 2008, however, in an unrelated incident, the suspect who had been convicted of killing an entire family in Henan has been exonerated in court. When being asked why he confessed to the killing in the first place, the suspect said that he was tortured by a fellow prisoner while being jailed, and this prisoner was also Yuan, the same prisoner who overheard and helped write down the confession of Zhang.
Senior Zhang said, “As soon as we were in jail, the fellow prisoner Yuan came to us and said he already knew everything about our crimes, and even described to us many details about our case that we did not already know. Then he said we need to feel remorse and he wrote down a confession for us and told us to copy his confession in our own writings.”
But why did you do it?
Senior Zhang continued: “Yuan started beating me almost immediately after I went inside. He said my presence ruined his appetite. And he had made many rules for me, such as, when he urinates, I have to get down our knees near the toilet and in the morning, I have to get on my knees and pray to Buddha.
Junior Zhang also said that similar things happened to him as soon as he went in jail. The same fellow prisoner Yuan started beating him as soon as he saw him.
Did you not ask for help? The reported asked Junior Zhang. “Of course we did, but no one paid any attention to us. Yuan and his goons were not making any sense to me. They just kept on beating me until I felt like death was better than being tortured like this.”
Senior Zhang said that this Yuan prisoner was not most definitely not an ordinary prisoner. “I could never figure out how he was able to know so much details about our case, even more than I did. He wrote a confession for me, detailing how we raped the girl in our truck, and then killed her, and forced me to copy everything down in my own handwriting. ”
After being forced to write down his own confession, senior Zhang, being more experienced, actually tore off a piece of the confession that was written by Yuan, but when a police guard came by and saw it, he took it away from him and never came back. After Yuan found out, he gave senior Zhang another round of severe beating. Yuan and some other prisoners dragged him into the restroom and kicked his groins until he blacked out.
In addition to constant beatings, both Zhangs were subject to other methods of torture. Junior Zhang, for instance, was handcuffed for seven days straight, and he had defecated and urinated in his pants and were never allowed to use the bathroom. Both Junior Zhang and Senior Zhang were not allowed to sleep. They must remain standing at all times and if they fell to the group or dozed off, they were given beatings until they woke up or got on their feet again. Nor were they given much of anything to eat in those seven days. They only had eaten some leftovers discarded by the police guards.
Other forms of tortured included: being stuffed in all orifices with burning cigarettes.
They were indeed never tortured by the police. They were tortured by fellow prisoners.
“Given the way they were beating me, I would not survive even if I were sister Jiang [Jiang Zhuyun, Communist spy who were tortured to death by the Chinese nationalists during the Chinese civil war].” Senior Zhang said.
Given the account above, it became obvious that there was no other solid evidence than the alleged confession, that was “voluntarily” written by the Zhangs.
The confessions that were written by both Zhangs have staggeringly wild disparities. For instance, Senior Zhang writes that he alone carried the corpse of the girl into the sewage, while Junior Zhang says that both of them carried the corpse into the sewage, “Senior Zhang holding the feet and I holdig the girl’s head.” There were also glaring disparities as to where the rape happened. Senior Zhang says it happened at the front seat. Junior Zhang says it happened at the back seat. Inconsistencies also consisted as to when the girl died. Even for logistics. The truck allegedly drove onto a very narrow road that was even hard for smaller cars to pass, but the Zhangs were driving not just a truck, but a heavily loaded car. What would happen if their car were stuck? Would they discard their truck and flee on feet? Not to mention the fact that the Zhangs knew the girl through a relative. If they really did had intentions to rape and murder the girl, they would become the immediate suspect. Would anyone be really this dumb? Suppose the Junior Zhang was indeed so rash, but Senior Zhang was already close to 40s, recently married and his wife was six months pregnant, what he really risk such a happy life to assist Junior Zhang in this crime, which is punishable by death in the Chinese justice system?
And what about DNA evidence. “I have never even touched her. There is definitely no DNA of me on her.”
The police in fact found some DNA evidence. In the fingernails of the girl, there was DNA evidence belonging to a fourth person that did not belong to the girl, Senior Zhang or Junior Zhang. Who is this fourth person? Would Zhangs have committed the rape and murder with this fourth person? Even if it were indeed the Zhangs who committed the rape and murder, the police should have been obligated to find this fourth person. However, the police ignored this DNA evidence, and the judge during the trial refused to admit DNA as evidence.
April 21 2004 Hangzhou Supreme Criminal Court sentenced Senior Zhang to death and Junior Zhang to life sentence in prison. Both Zhangs refused to accept the sentence and appealed to higher appellate, and in court, they took off their shirts to show the scars they had accumulated on their bodies while being imprisoned, demonstrating to the judge and everyone else present that they were tortured and their written confessions were involuntary.
However, the court refused to admit this as evidence.
Half a year later, October 19 2004, the higher appellate court Zhejiang Supreme Criminal Court determined the case lacked solid evidence and re-sentenced Senior Zhang to suspended death penalty and Junior Zhang to 15 years in prison.
According to what we know now, it’s actually still impossible to determine if indeed the Zhangs were absolutely innocent, but the lack of evidence, and the carelessness of the police overwhelmingly support our suspicions.
And while the Zhangs were serving their sentence in prison, at almost the exactly same location, another rape-murder case had occurred.
January 8 2005, Miss Wu, a graduate student at ZheJiang University just finished her English final exam and was calling her mother asking about the schedule of the last bus to Hangzhou Train Station. Her plan was to take Route 151 bus to Hangzhou Train Station and then change to other transportation to her home in Shuidian New Village. Traveling from the northside of the city to the southside of the city takes at least one hour, and she would also need to go cross Qianjiang Third bridge. Her mom suggested that she takes a taxi instead. On the phone she told her mom, “I will consider,” and then hung up. And this was the last conversation between the mother and the daughter.
In a dumpster near ZheJiang University, police found a red handbag belonging to Wu. Inside was her student ID and other items. Her body was found near along Qianjiang river, inside a sewage dump that was filled to the brim with waste water. Her body was completely naked. She had been lying inside the 3 meter deep sewage for eight days. Her clothes were found nearby her naked body.
The suspect was Mr. Gu, a Taxi driver from Jilin province, 35 years of age.
After obtaining the testimony from Gu, the Hangzhou police issued a statement to the Hangzhou media stating that Miss Wu was not raped, dispelling the rumor for the general public. “She was killed only because she had an oral argument with the taxi driver Mr. Gu,” the press released claimed.
According to the testimony by Mr Gu, Miss Wu got off Route 151 bus at Flowery Garden Hotel and was waiting at the Route 505 bus stop. But she had missed the last Route 505 bus and so she decided to get on the Taxi of Mr. Gu. Mr. Gu drove her to Shuidian New Village. She was supposed to pay 14 RMB (around 2 USD) to Mr Gu. But when Miss Wu saw the number 14 on the meter, she said, “Impossible. I take Taxi from Hangzhou Train Station to Bing River all the time and it takes only ten RMB.” Afterward, she started cursing at Mr. Gu and they began to bicker. On that same day, Mr. Gu had been having arguments with his wife in Jilin, due to money issues and not being able to go back to Jilin for the up-coming Chinese New Year. He was despondent and his heart was filled with frustration and resentment. When Miss Gu opened the door of the taxi cab and was preparing to take off, Mr. Gu got out and kicked her back into the cab. Miss Wu started to yell and curse even harder. Filled with rage, Mr. Gu grabbed her throat and choked her to death. Now, filled with terror, Mr. Gu drove back to ZheJiang University and discarded her red handbag inside a nearby garbage dumpster. His intention was to trick the police into thinking that she had been murdered near the university campus. Then he drove to the downstream of Qianjiang River and dumped her corpse inside a sewage dump. And in order to make it appear that she was raped, he took off all her clothes as well. He also took Miss Wu’s laptop and MP3 to a relative as personal gifts.
In Mr. Gu’s testimony, he emphasized again and again that he did not have a plan to kill her, nor did he have intentions to rape her. He clearly understood that, according to Chinese Justice System, premeditated killing and rape could mean death sentence, but if he only acted on impulse, which would be considered manslaughter, and for that, at most, he would be sentenced to life in prison.
The media stepped in after his testimony went public, and there were in fact many people who sympathized with Mr. Gu. The claims were that Miss Wu were condescending to the people who toiled at the bottom of the Chinese society and her arrogant behavior was the cause of her own death.
However, some were skeptical. Miss Wu was a college student in her twenties. She was found completely naked inside a sewage. Even though there was no DNA evidence found inside her vaginal tract, that could be due to the fact that she had been immersed in water for eight days straight. Her belongings were meager, with only a handbag, a laptop and a MP3, so that should not have been any motivation for robbery. As for impulsive killing, many noted, Gu was from North East China, a province near Mongolia noted for producing strong men mixed with Mongol breed, and over 1.8 meter tall (around 6 feet). If he had wanted to teach a lesson to Miss Wu, he could have easily overpowered her and given her a drubbing without her being able to resist.
Giving her a beating would cost him some money in court and only 15 days in jail. So why kill her?
Another point that many made was, Gu was able to rationally and systematically process the corpse after killing Miss Wu, driving his Taxi, with her dead body inside, back to Zhejiang University, and then taking off her clothes and dumping her body in a sewage, all of which seem to indicate that he must have had some “experience” in such matter. If he had killed a person for the first time, the logic went, he would have been scared out of his mind, and the first thing he should have done is to flee, but this was not what Gu did.
Yet more mystery was, around the same place, just a few meters away from the same sewage system, over a year ago, the police had found the corpse of another girl, Wang, who had been raped and murdered.
It should have been so obvious, some pointed out, that in a span of two years, at the same location, using almost the same method, two girls were murdered. Why did the police not investigate more?
And yet the police insisted that this case did not involve rape. According to the police who spoke to the newspaper at the time, “Because Miss Wu was very beautiful, and the fact that she was completely naked, many people in public thinks she was raped. But according to the testimony by the suspect, we have eliminated this possibility.”
Even more strange things happened next. In the Chinese Justice System, what Mr. Gu did was manslaughter, and the district attorney had only charged him with the crime of manslaughter, but within three months, Mr Gu went though hearing, trial, and death-penalty audit, and was immediately executed. The speed with which all those things happened was quite abnormal. Ordinarily, the whole process should take at least six months to over a year, but Gu went from being arrested to being executed in only three months.
Back to the story of Senior and Junior Zhang.
While serving their sentences inside prison, they continued to try to appeal their case and had never given up. The brother of Senior Zhang traveled to Beijing to appeal their case to the supreme court of the Chinese capital, Due to the impoverished economic state of Zhang, his brother could only afford 5 RMB (less than 1 USD) hostels for sleep. In his recollection, he said, there were more than dozens of people all crowded in one room, all of them were in the capital appealing for justice, and “on this road to appeal, I have traveled for the last ten years.”
Due to the notoriety of being rapists and murderers, the wife of Senior Zhang divorced her husband and aborted her five months old fetus. The girlfriend of Junior Zhang had also broken up with him and canceled the wedding. Senior Zhang has two daughters from the previous marriage, and because of their father, both of them had been ridiculed and bullied in school. According to Chinese traditions, the sins of the fathers must be carried out on their children. The relatives of the dead girl had instructed other school children to beat and humiliate Senior Zhang’s daughters by stripping them naked in public and torturing them by sticking small tree branches inside their vagina and pouring hot coffee inside. “Your father is a rapist and a murderer. You deserve it.” Unable to endure the torture and humiliation, both daughters quit school and went to work in factories. And at work, they were still constantly being harassed and bullied by other coworkers who had heard about their father’s story, and eventually they were forced to resign their jobs. Even though they were very pretty, no man dared to have romantic relationships with the two sisters, because of their father’s reputation for being a rapist and murderer. Both daughters ended up being sold to a brothel in Shanghai and became prostitutes. Their grandmother and grandfather died of heart attack within a few days after they were sold.
The lives of their father Senior Zhang and their uncle Junior Zhang were even worse in prison. Because they were rapists, fellow prisoners disdained them and found many ways to torture them, numerous tortures were administered daily, such as sticking cattle prods inside their rectums and electrocuting their gentials. Junior Zhang had become resigned to life and decided not to fight the government, even though he was still trying to appeal his case. Senior Zhang, however, could never let go of this injustice. Everyday he said, “I’m innocent,” and when the prison guard called out his number, he replied, “I’m innocent,” instead of repeating his prison number. He became such a headache to the prison guards that during administrative meetings the prison guards would especially raise issues regarding Senior Zhang to their supervisors.