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In April 1994, the body of an unidentified woman is found in a local village pond. Suspicion falls on She Xianglin, the husband of a local woman reported missing months earlier. With such a high profile case in the balance and no other suspects, the police focus on the one thing that can clinch the case: a confession. She Xianglin is detained, convicted and imprisoned, and the case is closed with swift justice. But eleven years later when a mysterious woman claiming to be the wife of She Xianglin reappears, she sets into motion a series of events truly stranger than fiction.
Back from the Dead tells the fascinating story of one of China's most notorious wrongful conviction cases. Well-written and engaging, the reader learns not just about the She Xianglin case, but about the Chinese legal system and Chinese culture as well. The lessons from the She Xianglin case—regarding police tunnel vision, the problems of false confessions, and how politics can affect justice—ring true not just in China, but in every legal system around the world. A must read for anyone interested in criminal justice and comparative law.' Mark Godsey Director, Rosenthal Institute for Justice/Ohio Innocence Project
Back from the Dead is both an intriguing tale of murder and a fascinating insight into the workings of China's criminal justice system. It serves as a vital reminder of the importance of safeguarding suspect rights. It is powerfully optimistic and life-affirming—bizarrely so!' Amber Marks, author of Headspace
'Professor He Jiahong has provided us with a meticulously detailed account of both the legal and factual aspects of the wrongful detention, conviction and imprisonment of She Xianglin for a murder he did not commit. This was one of the infamous cases of miscarriage of justice where popular outrage forced a reconsideration of the administration of criminal justice in China, in particular the use of capital punishment. But, this story does much more than recite the terrible wrong done to an innocent man. Professor He's account of this case reminds us of the very human dimensions of the lives of people caught up in this case and in other cases like it. It brings home to us the many differing ways miscarriages of justice damage, even destroy, the lives of all those involved. Far from concluding that such a case is extraordinary, we are ultimately left with the very uncomfortable sense of how ordinary it might be for such miscarriages of justice to be produced by China's criminal justice system where incentives and pressures to 'solve' such cases are strong and institutional checks and balances are weak.' Sarah Biddulph Professor and Associate Director (China), Asian Law Centre, Melbourne Law School, The University of Melbourne
Published: 10th February 2014