Citizen 1985, a rights group that was set up to lodge protests with the Ministry of National Defense over the death of army corporal Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘), yesterday voiced disappointment after 13 of the 18 indicted military officials were sentenced to less than a year in jail.
The major defendants in the high-profile case were found guilty of abusing their power in restricting Hung’s personal freedom and were given sentences ranging from three to eight months in prison.
Citizen 1985 spokesman Wang Hsi (王希) said the ruling was contrary to what the public expected and a majority found it “unacceptable.”
“We had hoped the judicial system could settle who was responsible, and to what extent they should be held responsible for the death of a life,” Wang said. “I believe every citizen knows the answer to the question of whether they find the ruling acceptable.”
Netizens also weighed in on the ruling, with some voicing their disagreement and saying they plan to launch another mass demonstration.
“I’m not a legal expert. Everyone, including myself, must abide by the rule of the law. If the maximum sentence for manslaughter is only six months, then no amount of public rage can change that sentence, short of a legal amendment. To say otherwise is to invite tyranny of the masses,” Giddens Ko (柯景騰) wrote on Facebook.
“People mistreating animals receive a heavier sentence. It is evident that the life of a man is worth less than that of an animal,” a netizen named Chen Yeh-cheng (陳業程) said.
On the other hand, netizen Lin Tsung-hsi (林宗熙) said the Hung family had managed to attract society’s attention to the issue and should know when to draw the line.
In the legislature, Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) was asked by lawmakers about his opinion on the ruling. Jiang said he respected any court decision, but he would ask the Ministry of Justice to carefully review the statement of the ruling and decide whether to file an appeal with a higher court.
The Ministry of National Defense also said it respected the ruling.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Ho Hsin-chun (何欣純) said the ruling fell far short of public expectations and demanded that Jiang and Minister of Justice Luo Ying-shay (羅瑩雪) promise that prosecutors would appeal the case.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Tsai Chin-Lung (蔡錦隆) asked Jiang to convey his concerns to the Hung family and let them know the government would provide them with any assistance they need.
Additional reporting by Yu Rui-jen and Chen Yen-ting