The Military High Court yesterday released on bail three key defendants in the case of the death of army corporal Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘), saying they had been cooperating with the investigation and that there were no concerns over possible collusion.
After an overnight detention hearing, the court released former deputy commander of the 542nd Brigade Colonel Ho Chiang-chung (何江忠) on bail of NT$500,000, 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$400,000 bail at about 4pm.
The court said the defendants had been cooperative during questioning and their court appearances, and there was no immediate concern of collusion, since they have been monitored by military officers at all times.
The detention hearing began on Wednesday evening after the court accepted an interlocutory appeal from military prosecutors, filed after the three were released on bail on Friday last week.
After consecutive days of drill exercises in a military detention facility, Hung died from heat exhaustion and multiple organ failure in hospital on July 4, just three days before he was due to be discharged from his compulsory military service.
Responding to the release, Hung’s sister, Hung Tzu-yung (洪慈庸), said in Greater Taichung that her family “has pretty much given up on the credibility of the military judiciary,” adding that “anyone who is not blind can see the irregular activities of and the contacts between the defendants.”
While the jurisdiction of the case is soon to be transferred to the civilian judiciary after a landmark amendment was passed in the legislature on Tuesday, Hung Tzu-yung said military prosecutors did not begin their probe into the 542nd Brigade until two weeks into the investigation.
“It’s too late now as [the defendants] have been able to get everything ready for the investigation and trial,” she said.
Prosecutors submitted evidence in the hearing and accused 542nd Brigade Commander Shen Wei-chih (沈威志), one of 18 defendants in the case, of convening a meeting with officers involved in the case — including Ho, Hsu and Fan — on July 9, before the officers visited the Hung family for the first time and allegedly colluded on a unified statement about Hung’s death.
Prosecutors also said that Fan had returned to the 542nd Brigade base for unknown activities on Saturday night without notifying his superiors, a suspicious move that could be related to destruction of evidence and collusion.