There was no tampering with surveillance footage of the holding cell where an army corporal had been confined before his sudden death last month, a prosecutor at the Taoyuan District Prosecutors’ Office said yesterday.
Blank footage and 80 minutes of missing video were caused by loose plugs and technical problems with the video recording system, said Tai Wen-liang (戴文亮), a prosecutor in charge of investigating the footage, two days after charges were filed in the death of corporal Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘).
At a press conference, Tai announced his decision to close the probe without filing any charges, saying that staff at the detention facility had found the system operating irregularly on the morning of July 1 and sent a maintenance crew to fix it that afternoon.
Maintenance personnel rebooted the entire system, inadvertently causing an overwrite of the previous video files when new ones started recording, he said.
The blank footage, meanwhile, was caused by an interruption to the power system rather than tampering, Tai said.
While one of the 16 cameras in the surveillance system malfunctioned, the others continued recording as normal, indicating that the outage was accidental.
Tai added that footage shows none of the cameras were moved from their respective positions before, during or after Hung’s confinement, refuting claims from some critics that they had been deliberately shifted.
Since there was no evidence of tampering, the prosecutor said, he would not file any charges. His decision is final and cannot be legally challenged or appealed.
Hung’s family yesterday said they could not comprehend the courts’ ruling to release all four military personnel detained during the investigation on bail and will appeal the decision.
Early yesterday morning, the Military High Court released former deputy commander of the 542nd Brigade Colonel Ho Chiang-chung (何江忠) on bail of NT$300,000, company commander Major Hsu Shin-cheng (徐信正) on NT$250,000 bail and Staff Sergeant Fan Tso-hsien (范佐憲) on NT$200,000 bail.
The previous evening, Staff Sergeant Chen Yi-hsun (陳毅勳), who oversaw Hung’s punishment and faces the most serious charge of allegedly causing the death of a subordinate by forcing him to do excessive exercise, was released by the North Military District Court on bail of NT$150,000.
According to the North Military District Court, a defendant charged with serious offenses does not necessarily need to be kept in custody.
Chen was released as military prosecutors were still consolidating evidence and obtaining testimony from witnesses. The court said that there is no risk of Chen absconding as he is to report for duty as an active-duty serviceman.
Spokesman for the Military High Court, Colonel Ni Yun-shi (倪運喜), said the remaining three defendants were charged with exceeding regulations in punishing a subordinate and collectively infringing upon Hung’s personal freedom. This was not deemed sufficiently serious to warrant them being kept in custody so the court decided to release them on bail while barring them from leaving the country.
“They were released on bail ... [the court said] they did not commit serious crimes. Did my son commit a serious crime and should he have died?” Hung’s mother tearfully asked yesterday.
Military prosecutors added they could not accept the courts’ ruling and are appealing the decision with the Military Supreme Court.