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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.

1 Comment
May 4, 2014    ntcmtlpeterlee@
I am happy with this continued report from yesterday, especially for the expectation expressed at the end of the commentary conclusion. However, I am still concerned if the expected improvement shall really be implemented in the judiciary, because, as far as I know, such kind of mistake can never be tolerated in any other democratic country.

As we all can see, the key to the failed righteous judgment was the lost evidence - blood palm print.

Firstly, the responsible prosecutor and judge in the military court overlooked, whether intentionally or not, this evidence. The reason for this mistake, as far as I can imagine, was possibly due to the pressure from higher level commanders in the then Air Force. We all know that submission or 'obey-your-superior' is always emphasized and demanded in the military. Military prosecutors and judges are also military personnel, therefore, it is taken for granted that they should submit to or obey their superiors in case they got pressure. Nevertheless, this is far from a good excuse for them to avoid responsibility, if we consider what happened in the States. After Vietnamese war was ended, many American military personnel were prosecuted and sentenced because they had obeyed their superiors and slaughtered innocent Vietnamese civilians.

In this respect, my recommendation is as follows:

1. Judicial independence for the judiciary in the military should be implemented as soon as possible, in order to prevent the unnecessary and illegal interference by the so called 'superior' from recurrence in the future.

2. the concerned prosecutor and judge in this case should still be indicted if found guilty after investigation, not only to restore the lost justice, but also to give warning against future recurrence.

Secondly, the Supreme Court's final verdict, as we can see from yesterday's report, was mainly based on the fact that the blood palm print had been lost. The loss of such an important document is really very, very unreasonable and absurd. If it was not an excuse, then the person who should be responsible for the loss should also be punished, or even indicted if the key evidence was destroyed purposely.

It's a pity that too many cases of injustice are currently existing in almost all areas, political, judicial, social, or whatever. Looks like too many people have lost their conscience and are indulged in chasing for fame, fortune and personal benefit. I sincerely hope and pray that all Taiwanese people shall repent and return to God, the Creator of the whole universe, pick up our conscience and spend more time to prevent injustice from happening again and again.

May God bless Taiwan and all Taiwanese!
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