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September 22, 2017

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Prosecution at fault in unsolved rape, murder case

(Continued from yesterday)

According to Control Yuan members, Chiang Kuo-ching (江國慶) was tortured by 14 Air Force counterintelligence personnel continuously for 37 hours before making the confession that led to his conviction and execution.

The methods of torture included sensory bombardment during a marathon interrogation session and forcing Chiang to watch a video recording of the girl's autopsy, the Control Yuan said.

Belated justice ultimately cleared Chiang's name.

The military court exonerated Chiang and gave his family NT$103.18 million in compensation. President Ma Ying-jeou personally visited Chiang's mother to apologize over the belated justice.

The military court filed a lawsuit with the Taipei District Court, demanding that former Defense Minister Chen Chao-min (陳肇敏), who was the commander of the Air Force during the time of the case, and other military officials pay for the compensation.

After clearing Chiang's name, prosecutors came to believe that Hsu Jung-chou, also an Air Force serviceman, was the chief suspect.

Hsu was promptly indicted on homicide charges in May 2011 following a newly launched investigation.

The Supreme Court's final verdict, however, sent a shockwave throughout the nation, as both chief suspects were ultimately found not guilty. So, who is to be blamed for the death of the 5-year-old?

Flawed Investigations

The twists and turns in the case have cost Chiang's life and has also greatly affected Hsu, who was kept in a detention center for nearly 800 days.

The case also traumatized the families of Chiang and Hsu.

But the ones who have suffered the most are Hsieh's family members, who after two decades still have yet to receive an answer as to who is responsible for the girl's death.

The case is a notorious example of flawed investigation.

Military and civilian prosecutors relied too much on confessions, ignoring the legal methods through which confessions are obtained.

The case represents a dark page in the history of Taiwan's judiciary, exposing yet another instance of forced confession — something which has been an aspect of several cases in Taiwan, including the controversial retrial of the "Hsichih Trio."

But the fatal flaw was the prosecution's failure to preserve key evidence.

The bloodcurdling case highlights the importance of improving scientific methods of investigation as well as the importance of ensuring procedural integrity, in order to guarantee human rights in Taiwan.

We sincerely hope that the case will be the last of its kind and that local prosecutors and investigators can learn from the mistakes, making sure once and for all that there are no more forced confessions and/or wrongful executions.

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