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August 24, 2017

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15 rejected appeals in military justice cases

TAIPEI, Taiwan --The Executive Yuan's Military Injustice Petitions Committee, a government body that reviews possible miscarriages of justice under military courts, yesterday said that since August 2013 the committee had received 182 applications to reopen investigations, while rejecting a mere 15.

Families of the alleged miscarriages of justice victims held a press conference at the Legislative Yuan yesterday morning, claiming that since the committee began in 2013 August, it rejected 51 out of 52 applications, noting that one of the rejection reasons was "alternative service is not service person."

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Ou-po (陳歐珀), who attended the press conference, criticized the Military Injustice Petitions Committee as not taking these applications seriously, urging the committee to show empathy to the victims' families and help them to find out the truth.

DPP lawmaker Tsai Huang-Liang (蔡煌瑯) said the committee only accepts cases that occurred in the past two decades, which is not fair to the victims that are involved with cases 20 years and older. Tsai urged the Ministry of National Defense (MND) to amend relevant regulations, and loose the restrictions on the matter.

A victim's mother said that her son, surnamed Chen, was an alternative service conscript who was due to leave the Army in three months, however, he was found dead in his dorm in the Cheng Gong Ling (成功嶺) training center in Taichung City with 13 slash wounds on his body.

The woman said her son was registered in the post graduate session, and there is no way Chen would choose to end his own life, nevertheless, the Military Injustice Petitions Committee deemed Chen was an alternative service conscript and rejected the application to reopen the case.

The committee was set up as part of ongoing government reforms to the military judicial system after public outcry following the suspicious death of Army Corporal Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘) in July of last year. Hung, 24, died of heatstroke on July 4, after being wrongfully held in a military brig.

The committee reviews possible miscarriages of justice at courts-martial from the past two decades, and may launch new probes into old cases should the families of conscripts who were reported as missing or dead during their services decide to do so.

Committee Response

The Military Injustice Petitions Committee's leading secretary Tsai Hsing-hua (蔡興華) said he does not know where the statistics the families have come from, noting that among the 15 rejected applications, seven of incidents occurred over two decades ago.

Tsai said according to Act of Military Service System article 25, alternative service is not service person, thus the committee could not accept the case. He went on to say that as for cases that occurred over 20 years ago, given that the retroactive period is passed, the committee cannot transfer the cases to prosecutors for re-examination.

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