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Ex-wife kept up struggle to clear name

By LI LEI | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2020-08-08 08:28
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Zhang Yuhuan holds the hands of his ex-wife Song Xiaonyu to thank her in Nanchang, Jiangxi province, on Wednesday. WANG QIN/CHENGDU ECONOMIC DAILY

The recent release of Zhang Yuhuan, dubbed "China's longest-serving wrongfully convicted inmate", has cast a spotlight on his ex-wife Song Xiaonyu and her uphill struggle to help clear Zhang's name, raise two toddlers and fight cancer.

In a statement posted on Thursday night on Sina Weibo, Song said she would have kept appealing Zhang's case as long as he remained behind bars, despite the fact that she remarried six years after he was detained as a homicide suspect in 1993.

The statement came after video clips circulating online showed Zhang on his return to his home village near Nanchang, Jiangxi province, meeting his ex-wife as she cried out frantically and later fainted. Song told media that he owed her a hug.

The post accrued more than 1.53 million thumb ups and 60,000 comments in less than 24 hours.

Song wrote that she was shocked when police identified Zhang, then a 26-year-old carpenter, as a suspect for killing two young boys and dumping their bodies in a reservoir near the couple's home village.

"He was not that kind of a guy," she wrote.

Song described Zhang, now 52, as a loving and responsible husband and a good Samaritan who was always ready to lend a helping hand.

Song recalled that threats and personal attacks had overshadowed her as the wife of a homicide suspect.

In 1994, Song left her two sons in the care of her father and in-laws, and departed for Shenzhen, Guangdong province. She labored as a migrant worker in the southern manufacturing hub while appealing for help from higher judiciary authorities, though to no avail, the post said.

Song went to great lengths to justify her decision to remarry in 1999. The mother of two had three years earlier been diagnosed with noncancerous growths in her uterus.

Song wrote that she remarried so that her condition would not cause a financial burden on the Zhang family.

She had resisted the idea of surgery for more than a decade, until the tumors morphed into cervical cancer. She had feared that a surgical failure could affect the appeal process, and would render her sons motherless, according to the post.

The belated surgery had not eliminated all the tumors, but she said she was not frightened by surgeries anymore, now that Zhang's name is cleared and her sons are all married. There are deep-rooted beliefs in rural China that a child's marriage is a major parental responsibility.

In a recent interview with Beijing News, Zhang said he respected her decision to remarry, and hoped that Song could be happy.

In the Weibo post, Song also thanked her current husband, who she said had been supportive of her efforts to appeal the case, visited Zhang's mother and treated her sons well.

She said Zhang had left two toddlers-at age 3 and 4-and now returned to be welcomed by his two sons, plus two daughters-in-law and his grandchildren.

She said she wished that Zhang could treat them well because they all had really difficult lives.



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