Mon, Jun 06, 2011 - Page 8 News List

Why is no one held to account?

By Lin Feng-jeng 林峰正

Presidential Office spokesman Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) recently issued a statement in which he expressed views related to the fact that prosecutors have said members of the military tortured former Air Force Command serviceman Chiang Kuo-ching (江國慶) and that this led to the wrongful conviction and execution of Chiang.

Lo addressed the fact that the so-called “true killer,” Hsu Jung-chou (許榮洲), was being charged with rape and murder and that former defense minister and then-commander of the Air Force Command, Chen Chao-min (陳肇敏), and eight other officers would not face charges because the statute of limitations has expired.

Speaking on behalf of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), Lo said Ma thinks the government should carefully reflect on the mistakes committed by the military staff concerned and that these mistakes would not be repeated. Lo said Ma had to respect that as president he should not interfere in any ongoing investigation.

Lo said that since the military was re-opening the Chiang case to allow it to reverse the verdict and clear Chiang’s name, in accordance with legal procedure, Ma would respect the outcome of the re-examinations of the case.

The military judicial re--examination has not produced any results, but the prosecutors’ investigation into the case shows that Chiang was indeed tortured. However, because the statute of limitations has passed, nobody will be charged. In simpler terms, nobody needs to take responsibility for what happened. Is this what Ma must respect?

When the Chiang case became an issue once again this year, Ma said, via Lo, that since coming to office he has always placed an emphasis on human rights, that he was opposed to wrongful convictions and that he would continue to carry out judicial reform. Not until public criticism was directed at the Ministry of National Defense for reacting too slowly did Ma change his tune.

On Feb 1, he visited Chiang’s mother, to whom he apologized and declared that case would be re-investigated and Chiang’s innocence proven. He also said those responsible would be held to account and that the family would be given help to obtain compensation.

Efforts toward clearing Chiang’s name are only about to begin and there seems to be no hope that those responsible will be held to account. There is not sign of compensation for the Chiang family.

The reason prosecutors have now charged “the real culprit” Hsu is that they think the examination shows that a palm print left behind by the murderer on the wooden frame of the window in the toilet where the victim’s body was found matched Hsu’s right palm print. In addition, the reappraisal of the original report on tissue paper taken from the murder scene was not sufficient to prove that Chiang was guilty and a test of the utility knife found at the scene did not find any evidence to prove it was Chiang’s or show any signs of blood from the victim.

In other words, not a single piece of evidence — not palm prints, tissue paper or the utility knife — proved Chiang was involved in the murder. Prosecutors have also proved that Chiang was threatened and tortured by several members of Air Force Command’s counterintelligence unit, who abused their powers to illegally obtain a confession. The torture produced the involuntary confession.

If things are really like the prosecutors said, then they fit Article 125 of the Criminal Code and its prescriptions on the statute of limitations for those who abuse their power. This is because if the material evidence does not match the accused in anyway, then according to the law, a confession alone is not enough to issue a guilty verdict.

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