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Apologies, not-guilty pleas over Hung death

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- All 18 defendants involved in a high-profile case over the death of Army Corporal Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘) last year pleaded not guilty during a High Court hearing yesterday.

Five of the defendants, however, offered an apology to Hung's family, who were present at yesterday's hearing — the first hearing held by the High Court after the Hungs' decision to appeal the case.

The defendants stressed that they felt sorry for the 24-year-old Army corporal's death, but they insisted they had no intention of torturing Hung.

The apology was not accepted by Hung's family.

Hung's uncle Hu Shih-ho (胡世和) later told local media that only Hsiao Chih-ming (蕭志明), one of the 18 defendants, has apologized to the family and his apology was accepted.

The other 17 military personnel involved in the case did not do so until yesterday's court hearing, showing they have no remorse for the young man's death, Hung said.

The defendants were given relatively lenient sentences by the Taoyuan District Court on March 7. Five of them were acquitted, while the rest of the defendants were given jail terms ranging from six to eight months.

The ruling came as a huge surprise to Hung's family, who deemed the ruling unacceptable because it showed that no one needs to take responsibility for Hung's death. They later decided to appeal the case to the High Court.

Hung, 24, was thrown into the brig located at the 269th Armored Brigade on June 28, 2013 and was forced to perform grueling exercises in hot weather before he collapsed on July 3. He died a day later of multiple organ failure caused by heatstroke.

The suspicious death of Hung and the military's response sparked accusations of torture and led to mass protests.

National rage ultimately led to the resignation of a defense minister and forced the government to launch a comprehensive military judicial system overhaul.

On July 31, 2013, military prosecutors indicted a total of 18 military personnel allegedly involved in the death of Hung.

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