Thu, Oct 23, 2003 - Page 8 News List


Open letter to Chen Ding-nan

I write to express my concern regarding the case of Su Chien-ho (蘇健和), Liu Bin-lang (劉秉郎) and Chuang Lin-hsun (莊林勳), collectively referred to as the "Hsichih Trio." As you know, the next stage of their trial will begin on Oct. 27. I am anxious about the attitude of the prosecution in this case.

More specifically, I am earnestly hoping that the prosecution will truthfully and professionally fulfill their duty of presenting the state's case to the court.

The truth, as you also know, is that during five full trials over a span of 12 years, not a single piece of physical evidence has ever been introduced in this case that can possibly connect any one of the accused to any part of the crime, still less without reasonable doubt.

I want to emphasize at this point, though of course you know this as well, that every one of the three accused must be found guilty separately, that is, there must be different pieces of evidence that link each of them to the crime.

No such evidence has ever been presented. And so many years after both the events and the investigation, any claims of "finding" new evidence must be treated with the utmost skepticism. It would also probably require an administrative or even criminal investigation of all people involved in the process.

There is only one honest way for the prosecution to proceed. They need to enter the court on Oct. 27, and clarify, item by item, that the prosecution is in fact unable to establish the evidentiary value of any physical evidence in the case.

Some items which have been associated with one or the other of the accused cannot be shown to have any link to the crime. These included common household items lacking any indication that they were used for unusual purposes, and which in any case were improperly acquired -- even in those days police were required to have search warrants.

The rest, including everything found at the scene as well as the victims' bodies themselves, cannot be demonstrated to have even an indirect link to any of the three accused.

After the prosecutors complete their analysis, the only thing left to consider will be the five "confessions." The prosecutors must then inform the judges that all five statements were provided in circumstances which do not meet current procedural standards of criminal prosecution, and point out that, in each case when a confession was brought into the light of proper procedure, it was promptly and completely retracted.

They should also add the fact that the only material witness, the only person who apparently had physical evidence connecting him to the crime, and who was thus the key to the entire case, will not be available to testify because the state already executed him in 1992.

This is the only ethical course of action for prosecutors in this case. Any attempt to defend the probative value of the so-called "evidence" would simply perpetuate a chain of abuse of the truth, and all prosecutors who get involved in such behavior will have forfeited their professional responsibility to uphold the law and seek genuine justice.

Of course, none of the steps described above would diminish the discretion of the judges. They could still find any or even all of the three men guilty. This is their power.

But let them bear the responsibility alone; at least your consciences would be clear.

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