Taiwan High Court to hear Hsichih Trio compensation bid

By Yang Kuo-wen and Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter with staff writer

Wed, Dec 26, 2012 - Page 1

The Taiwan High Court is to open a hearing tomorrow on a request for compensation by the three men in the high-profile “Hsichih Trio” murder case for wrongful conviction and imprisonment.

Su Chien-ho (蘇建和), Liu Bin-lang (劉秉郎) and Chuang Lin-hsun (莊林勳), collectively known as the “Hsichih Trio,” spent 11 years on death row.

Claiming compensation because of a miscarriage of justice, the trio are seeking NT$20 million (US$686,600) in restitution for the time they served behind bars.

This is the first time in Taiwan’s legal history that former death row inmates have sought compensation after their death sentences were overturned and they were found not guilty.

In accordance with the Fair and Speedy Criminal Trials Act (刑事妥速審判法), the Taiwan High Court handed down a “not guilty” verdict on Aug. 31 following a series of appeals and retrials, putting an end to a case that had dragged on for 21 years.

Some legal experts say that since the trio confessed while under arrest and during questioning by police, the authorities could not be held accountable and there consequently were no grounds for state compensation.

However, supporters said the confessions were made under duress, because the three were tortured by police, rendering their confessions inadmissible, and that they should therefore receive compensation due to the wrongful conviction.

The trio were accused of taking part in the robbery and murder of Wu Min-han (吳銘漢) and his wife, Yeh Ying-lan (葉盈蘭), in then-Taipei County’s Sijhih (汐止) on March 24, 1991.

The main suspect in the murders was Wang Wen-hsiao (王文孝), a marine conscript, who was arrested on Aug. 13, 1991. He was convicted and sentenced under military law, and executed on Jan. 11, 1992.

He had implicated his brother, Wang Wen-chung (王文忠), who served two years in jail after being convicted of being an accomplice.

The trio were implicated in the murder by Wang Wen-chung. They were convicted of robbery and murder and sentenced to death in February 1992.

The trio were sentenced to death five times. However, five separate justice ministers refused to sign death warrants because of questions raised about their case.