A serial killer in Inner Mongolia was executed yesterday for the murders of six people and 12 rapes. One of the man’s victims was only 12 years old.
According to Daily Mail, the 47-year-old killer, Zhao Zhihong, committed the crimes throughout the autonomous region from 1996 to 2005.
Zhao was arrested in 2005 and sentenced to death in 2015 after confessing to the string of heinous murders and assaults, including a 1996 rape and murder in Hohhot for which another man was previously convicted and executed.
At the time, 18-year-old Huugjilt found the strangled body of a woman in the bathroom of a Hohhot textile factory after hearing a cry for help, and immediately alerted police. He was ultimately blamed for the crime and faced trial, conviction, sentencing and ultimately death before the truth was revealed.
It wasn’t until 2014 that the young man was posthumously exonerated: His family spent years fighting to clear his name.
Considered among China’s most striking instances of judicial injustice, the mother and father were reportedly awarded RMB2 million as compensation, and, in February 2016, 27 officials were punished for mishandling the case, though it is unclear what punishment they received.
Zhao was dubbed the ‘smiling killer’ by journalists due to his unchanging demeanor.
He committed a total of 17 crimes, including homicide, rape, larceny and robbery throughout Inner Mongolia, the court announced during proceedings.
“The nature of his crimes was particularly gruesome,” the Supreme People’s Court remarked before sentencing, noting that Zhao “caused serious social damage” and used “extremely brutal means” to carry out his offenses – he reportedly strangled most victims by hand, but used a telephone wire in one case and slashed his victim in another.
In 2010, the Chinese government reduced the number of crimes that qualify for capital punishment from 55 to 46. Additionally, the evidence requirements to carry out death sentences were strengthened, according to Daily Mail.
[Cover image via @中国长安网/Weibo]