The Taoyuan District Court yesterday reopened the investigation into the death of army corporal Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘) and ruled that Colonel Ho Chiang-chung (何江忠), former company commander Major Hsu Shin-cheng (徐信正) and Staff Sergeant Fan Tso-hsien (范佐憲) be taken into custody.
Hung died three days prior to finishing his mandatory military service, due to heat exhaustion allegedly caused by intensive training administered with malignant intent. The results of the military investigation, which allowed Ho, Hsu and Fan to remain free after posting bail, led to public protests and a revision of the military judicial system.
Following an amendment to the Code of Court Martial Procedure (軍事審判法) earlier this month, the Hung case was transferred from the Military High Court to the Taoyuan District Court.
The trio were detained on charges of destruction, falsifying of and tampering with evidence, as well as collusion with regard to testimony.
The prosecution alleged in court yesterday that Ho had been in close contact with non-commissioned officers in his company shortly after he had posted bail, and that he had terminated his telephone account and had been using prepaid telephones.
The prosecution said these behaviors seemed suspiciously like attempts to avoid investigation, and Ho and the other defendants should be detained to avoid collusion on testimony.
However, Ho said that he had been within his rights in communicating with his subordinates and he had done so through legitimate channels, adding that the allegations of colluding on testimony were unfair and would jeopardize his career.
Ho’s attorney said that it was reasonable to contact others within the company when there was an incident causing the loss of life, adding that if the bench saw such action as testimony collusion it would seem to be against empirical law.
Hsu’s response to a prosecutor’s question of whether he and the other defendants had colluded on their testimony was: “I don’t remember.”
Hsu said he and others involved in the case had been summoned by Major General Shen Wei-chih (沈威志), the former commander of Hung’s brigade, for a meeting on the incident, but that Shen had only mentioned the procedures for Hung’s funeral, some training issues and the reassignment of the deputy brigade commander.
Shen did not require them to give the same responses during the investigation, Hsu said.
However, Hsu added that Shen told them that because he was concerned about Hung’s family possibly finding the military’s response to his death irresponsible, he wanted to know what they had talked about with Hung’s family.
Fan said in court that he received a summons from Ho around July 7, along with Hsu and chief of staff Colonel Chang Chih-wei (張治偉), and was told to answer simply yes or no, or right or wrong, to questions posed by the panel.
When asked by Cheng whether he admitted that putting Hung in “solitary confinement to repent” had been against the rules, Fan replied “yes.”
Commenting on the trio’s detention, Hung’s elder sister Hung Tzu-yung (洪慈庸) said that while the family commended the Taoyuan District Court’s efforts, they would however not place too much emphasis on the defendants’ detention.