Sun, Mar 24, 2002 - Page 1 News List

Appeal for death-row inmate urged

DEATH SENTENCE The Judicial Reform Foundation says Hsu Tzu-chiang's conviction is based on weak evidence and wants the minister of justice to appeal the verdict

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Death-row inmate Hsu Tzu-chiang's mother, right, his elder sister, center, and brother-in-law hold a press conference in Taipei yesterday to petition for another extraordinary appeal in Hsu's kidnap-and-murder case.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

The Judicial Reform Foundation (民間司法改革基金會) yesterday urged State Public Prosecutor-General Lu Jen-fa (盧仁發) to make another extraordinary appeal for an inmate who is about to face the death penalty.

According to the foundation, the case against death-row inmate Hsu Tzu-chiang (徐自強) is based on weak evidence and testimony.

Last Thursday, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Lu, which was made on April 3 last year, to review Hsu's case.

That decision pushed Hsu closer to the date of his execution, although Lu can still make another extraordinary appeal for him before Minister of Justice Chen Ding-nan (陳定南) approves the execution.

According to the law, only the state public prosecutor-general can make an extraordinary appeal to the Supreme Court for a death-row inmate. The execution is usually carried out within a few days of the minister of justice giving his approval.

Hsu's conviction was handed down by the Supreme Court on April 27, 2000. The Judicial Reform Foundation has petitioned Lu to pursue an extraordinary appeal for Hsu four times. Lu finally approved the fifth petition last year but the appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court last Thursday.

The foundation's petitions also cited a Control Yuan investigation report released in January last year that concluded Hsu's conviction was flawed and unlawful. In the report, the Control Yuan suggested the state public prosecutor-general make the extraordinary appeal.

Hsu was indicted for the Sept. 1, 1995 kidnapping and murder of Huang Chun-shu (黃春樹), a salesman, based on the testimony of his two alleged accomplices, Huang Chun-chi (黃春棋) and Chen Yi-lung (陳憶龍). Hsu has not confessed to either crime.

Both Huang and Chen were also sentenced to death.

In handing down the verdict, the court said Huang was kidnapped and the accomplices demanded NT$15 million in ransom. Huang was then killed the same day in Hsichih, Taipei County, and the three accomplices failed to get away with the money.

In May 2000, Chen Yi-lung wrote a confession admitting that he had deliberately incriminated Hsu because he had a grudge against him and hoped to delay the trial.

Joseph Lin (林永頌), president of the Judicial Reform Foundation, said that Lu is playing an important role in protecting human rights and it should be his job to ask judges for a review and re-examination of a case which is still not clear.

"Hsu turned himself in when he realized that he was wanted," Lin said. "In addition, he had an alibi. In the meantime, he never blackmailed the victim's family members for the ransom.

"Evidence obviously showed that Hsu is not the one who killed. Judges shouldn't put him to death based just on the testimony of other suspects. It would violate human rights if you sentence somebody to death when there are still unanswered questions, wouldn't it?"

Hsu's lawyer and family members will petition Lu again Monday morning and ask the minister of justice to delay the execution in order to clarify outstanding issues in Hsu's case.

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