The wrongful execution of a soldier convicted of sexually abusing and murdering a five-year-old girl in 1996 was officially closed yesterday and the real suspect was indicted, the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office said yesterday.
Special Investigation Panel (SIP) spokesman Chen Hung-ta (陳宏達) told a press conference that Hsu Jung-chou (許榮洲) was charged with the murder of the girl, surnamed Hsieh (謝), and that prosecutors requested that the Taipei District Court sentence him to 20 years in prison.
Chen said Hsu was a pedophile and that he should receive lengthy medical treatment after he completes his sentence.
The case sparked controversy earlier this year when a new investigation determined that Chiang Kuo-ching (江國慶), who served in Air Force Command in 1996 and was found guilty of murdering Hsieh after a month-long military investigation and executed the following year, was found innocent of the crime.
Chiang was 21 years old when he was executed.
The Military Supreme Court Prosecutors’ Office filed an extraordinary appeal with the Supreme Court in May last year to reopen the case, following findings by the Control Yuan that Chiang was tortured by military investigators.
Prosecutors’ documents said former air force counterintelligence officials Ko Chung-ching (柯仲慶), Teng Chun-huan (鄧震環), Lee Shu-chiang (李書強) and Lee Chih-Jen (李植仁), as well as Ho Tsu-yao (何祖耀), who is still in active service, had used inappropriate methods to coerce Chiang’s statement.
However, because the 10-year statute of limitation had expired, prosecutors did not indict them.
Prosecutors said no sufficient evidence was found to indicate that former minister of national defense Chen Chao-min (陳肇敏), who was then-chief of Air Force Command, Tsao Chai-sheng (曹嘉生), former Air Force Command legal department director, or former military prosecutors Chao Tai-shen (趙台生) and Huang Jui-peng (黃瑞鵬) violated criminal law in the case.
The prosecution said Chen Chao-min had disregarded the fact that military prosecutors were handling the criminal investigation and ordered the counterintelligence unit to take over.
Although the decision was not criminal per se, it was inappropriate, the prosecutors’ documents said.
Prosecutors said Chiang was tortured during questioning, including exposure to strong lights and being forced to watch a video of the girl’s autopsy. He was also threatened with an electric prod and deprived of sleep while being forced to undergo strenuous physical activity.
Prosecutors said that on Sept. 12, 1996, Hsu, who was also in Air Force Command, saw Hsieh watching TV alone at a restaurant at the base. He is believed to have led the girl to a washroom and then allegedly took off her clothes before brutally assaulting and raping her. To stifle the girl’s cries, he allegedly smothered her by putting his hand over her mouth and nose.
Prosecutors said Hsu left bloody palm prints at the scene of the crime, which a DNA test confirmed were his.
Chiang’s mother, Wang Tsai-lien (王彩蓮), and her attorney, Greg Yo (尤伯祥), held a press conference after the ruling yesterday.
“Chiang Kuo-ching’s reputation is finally cleared,” she said.
“However, the military officials involved in the investigation are too cold-blooded,” Wang said. “I can’t accept that Chen Chao-min was not indicted. I will sue him.”
Yo said Chen Chao-min was the mastermind behind the botched investigation. He ordered the counterintelligence unit to take over the case to force Chiang to confess to a crime he never committed.