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MND to beef up wrongful execution payout suit

The China Post--The Ministry of National Defense (MND) yesterday pledged to hire more experienced attorneys to show its determination to win a civil suit against several former military officials allegedly responsible for the wrongful execution of an airman 15 years ago.

The pledge comes after the ministry came under fire from opposition politicians during a legislative session yesterday. The lawmakers accused the MND of not trying hard enough to win the suit against former Defense Minister Chen Chao-min (陳肇敏) and five others implicated in the wrongful execution of Chiang Kuo-ching (江國慶).

According to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers, the MND has asked two relatively inexperienced and low-ranking military officers, who have only recently passed the bar exam, to be responsible for the suit. This indicates the military is not taking the case seriously, the lawmakers said.

During a court hearing held in Taipei last month regarding compensation for the execution, judges also told representatives from the military that their legal statements were too simple and not detailed enough. The judge suggested future statements have more content.

Using the above incidents as examples, the DPP's Hsiao Bi-khim and Chen Ting-fei both cast doubt on whether the military really wanted Chen and the five former officials to compensate the Chiang family.

The lawmakers added that if the MND did not win the lawsuit, taxpayers would be left to pay the compensation.

In response, Defense Minister Kao Hua-chu, who fielded questions during the same session, said the two military officers are qualified attorneys and they will be assisted by a team during the case.

But he also said the MND will find other capable and experienced lawyers from outside the military to join the team in the future.

Chiang's Case

Chiang was executed in 1997 for the rape and murder of a 5-year-old girl at the Air Force Combat Command in Taipei the previous year.

A reopening of the case, however, launched by the government watchdog Control Yuan a year ago found that the soldier was wrongfully executed.

Chen Chao-min, who was then an Air Force commander, and six others were found responsible for Chiang's coerced confession for the rape and murder of the girl.

A record NT$103 million compensation was last year awarded to the family of Chiang as compensation for the execution, in accordance with the Criminal Compensation Act (刑事補償法).

The MND later filed the civil suit against Chen and five others involved in the case, asking the court to seize their assets and to prevent them from dodging their responsibility to cover for the NT$103.18 million. The sixth person found responsible for the wrongful execution has agreed to pay part of the compensation.

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