At the request of the relatives of the victims of the brutal double murder for which the Hsichih Trio served 11 years in prison, the Taiwan High Court Prosecutors' Office yesterday filed an appeal to the Supreme Court against the overturning of the trio's convictions in January.
"This appeal was based on a request from family members of the victims Wu Ming-han (吳銘漢) and Yeh Ying-lan's (葉盈蘭), including Wu's mother, Wu Tang-tang (吳唐糖), and older brother, Wu Tang-chieh (吳唐接). In the [filed] appeal, we cited [as grounds for an appeal] certain deficiencies and vague parts of the verdict that we discovered, and we hope that they will be admitted by the Supreme Court," said Chen Chuwei (陳追), a spokesman for the Taiwan High Court Prosecutors' Office.
Prosecutors have a prerogative to initiate appeal proceedings on their own initiative in certain cases, including those of murder, but may also decide to do so following a request from a victim or victim's relative.
Under the Code of Criminal Procedure, both the prosecution and the defense have the right to appeal to a higher court within 10 days of receipt of an official copy of the verdict. Shih Liang-po, another spokesman for the prosecutors' office, said that prosecutors received the verdict on March 1 so their appeal was filed within the 10-day period, although the convictions were overturned by the Taiwan High Court on Jan. 13.
Shirley Lin (林靜萍), executive-general of the Judicial Reform Foundation, said she did not believe that the appeal would result in a retrial.
"The Supreme Court only grants an appeal and orders a lower court to rehear a case when there are deficiencies in the verdict.
"In Yeh's verdict, he clearly explained that vague evidence was the main reason why the court decided to overturn the trio's convictions. It was not only a clear explanation but also a statement of fact," she said.
Taiwan High Court Judge Yeh Teng-juei (葉騰瑞) released the defendants, Su Chien-ho (蘇建和), Liu Bing-lang (劉秉郎) and Chuang Lin-hsun (莊林勳) immediately on Jan. 13.
He also forbade them to change address or travel outside the country until the final verdict in the case is reached.
The Trio were condemned to death for the murders and spent eight years on death row while their case, which rested on confessions they claim were coerced, became a human-rights cause celebre in Taiwan.