Zhang Yuhuan’s wrongful conviction: A miscarriage of justice, illustrated

Society & Culture

He served 26 years for a crime he didn't commit. Zhang Yuhuan's case is an example of "snow in June," a Chinese metaphor for injustice.

"Summer snow" Zhang Yuhuan’s wrongful conviction

Last month, the High People’s Court of eastern China’s Jiangxi province acquitted Zhāng Yùhuán 张玉环, who had spent more than 26 years in prison for the murder of two boys. He is believed to have been China’s longest-serving wrongfully convicted inmate.

Zhang was 26 when he was arrested for the killing of two children from his village in 1993. Over the next 27 years, he wrote more than 400 letters from prison, asking for his case to be retried. He also asserted that his admission of guilt was made under duress. Police officers tortured him for at least six days after his arrest and he still has scars from bites after they turned dogs on him.

Critics point out that Zhang’s story hint at deeper-rooted problems within China’s criminal justice system, such as the police state placing “stability maintenance” above everything else, coupled with the central control of the judiciary system.

Summer Snow 1 / 2020 / Oil on canvas / 50×40 cm
Summer Snow 2 / 2020 / Oil on canvas / 50×40 cm
Summer Snow 3 / 2020 / Oil on canvas / 50×40 cm
Summer Snow 4 / 2020 / Oil on canvas / 50×40 cm