Thu, Jun 29, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Ruling by High Court angers soldier’s family

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

The mother of late army corporal Hung Chung-chiu, who died while serving in the military, expresses her anger at the Taiwan High Court’s ruling in her son’s case.

Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times

The Taiwan High Court yesterday handed down not guilty rulings to Major General Shen Wei-chih (沈威志) and two other soldiers in a retrial of a case stemming from the death of army corporal Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘) in 2013, disappointing and angering Hung’s family.

Yesterday’s verdict is a major reversal of the ruling by the Taoyuan District Court on March 7, 2014, that found Shen, the former commander of the 542nd Brigade, and 12 other defendants guilty, and acquitted five more.

The other two found not guilty yesterday were First Lieutenant Kao Yu-lung (郭毓龍) and Sergeant Lo Chi-yuan (羅濟元) — both from the 269th Mechanized Infantry Brigade — while six other defendants, including brigade deputy commander Colonel Ho Chiang-chung (何江中), were found guilty and given terms of between four and 18 months each, a reduction from their original sentences.

However, the six do not have to serve any jail time since the judges gave them suspended sentences and two years’ probation.

A 24-year-old conscript in the 542nd Armored Brigade, Hung was only three days away from completing mandatory military service when he died after being punished for taking a mobile phone with a built-in camera onto his base.

Hung collapsed on July 3, 2013, from heatstroke after being forced to perform a series of strenuous drills and died a day later in hospital.

Hung’s mother, Hu Su-chen (胡素真), said she could not accept yesterday’s verdict.

“I have to respect the justice system, but I cannot accept this ruling,” she said. “My son has passed away, but it still pains my heart when I think about what happened... To this day, Shen has never apologized to us, nor expressed any regret over the case. That is why the verdict on Shen matters.”

Hung’s sister, New Power Party Legislator Hung Tzu-yung (洪慈庸), said the ruling was far from what the family expected.

“We had reached settlement with some of the defendants, so we did expect the court to give them suspended sentences, but Shen and a few others have not admitted to any wrongdoing, and we did not expect the court’s verdict on them,” she said.

Chiu Hsien-chih (邱顯智), a lawyer representing the family, said the legal team would discuss the not-guilty verdict for Shen with the family and was not ruling out another appeal.

For the eight other defendants, Chiu said the family was leaning toward not launching an appeal.

The family contends that Shen is culpable for Hung Chung-chiu’s death because prosecutors showed that he had given approval for the military police to punish the conscript and that as the brigade commander, Shen could have suspended the punishment and given permission for Hung Chung-chiu to receive medical treatment after he was notified that the soldier was ill, but he did nothing.

Hung Chung-chiu’s death is considered one of the watershed incidents that led to a renewed civil movement for better protection of human rights, transparency and accountability in the military.

It led to the abolition of the military court system, with the transfer of all its cases to the civilian judiciary system, and led to Hung Tzu-yung becoming a leading voice in the reform movement and launched her political career.

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