Sat, Nov 03, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Ruling by Supreme Court orders retrial for `Hsichih Trio'

NEVER-ENDING STORY The ruling said the Taiwan High Court judgment was flawed, as the panel of judges failed to examine the knife allegedly used

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

The Supreme Court ruled late on Thursday that a highly controversial murder case involving the three men known as the "Hsichih Trio" must return to the Taiwan High Court for retrial because of flaws and deficiencies in the case's previous ruling.

The High Court handed down death sentences on June 29 for the three defendants -- Su Chien-ho (蘇建和), Liu Bing-lang (劉秉郎) and Chuang Lin-hsun (莊林勳) -- after ruling that the trio were involved in the brutal murder of Wu Ming-han (吳銘漢) and his wife Yeh Ying-lan (葉盈蘭) at their home in Sijhih (汐止), Taipei County, in March 1991.

However, the Supreme Court said in its ruling that the Taiwan High Court judgment was flawed, as the panel of judges handling the case failed to examine the kitchen knife allegedly used in the murder.

The Supreme Court also said the high court judges had hastily closed the case before getting to the bottom of key details.

Each of the three men received two death sentences in a third and final hearing on Feb. 9, 1995, after being convicted of robbery and the murders of Wu and Yeh on March 24, 1991.

The country's then-top prosecutor filed repeated special appeals with the Supreme Court for a retrial, but the appeals were all rejected. After many twists and turns, the Taiwan High Court in May 2000 finally approved an application by the trio's lawyer for a rare retrial of the case.

After more than two years of the retrial, the high court acquitted the three men in January 2003 on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to prove the defendants' involvement in the killings.

In March that year, the Taiwan High Prosecutors Office appealed the ruling and five months later, the Supreme Court revoked the "acquittal" decision and demanded that the high court retry the case.

The retrial ended on May 18 and the panel of judges dealing with the case recorded a "death penalty" verdict on June 29.

Shortly afterwards, the trio's lawyers appealed the case to the Supreme Court.

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