The Taoyuan District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday launched an investigation into a missing section of surveillance video that may have offered insights into the recent death of army corporal Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘).
According to chief military prosecutor Major-General Tsao Chin-sheng (曹金生), a key 80-minute portion of footage from cameras monitoring an area of a military detention barracks where the 23-year-old Hung was forced to perform strenuous exercises as part of his punishment, was blank because all 16 cameras had stopped working.
Hung’s family and others have suggested that foul play may be behind the missing footage, which covered 2pm to 3:20pm on July 1.
The Ministry of National Defense said on Saturday that manipulation of evidence is a criminal offense, adding that it agreed that the Taoyuan District Prosecutors’ Office should look into the matter.
The deputy chief of the Taiwan High Court’s Prosecutors’ Office, Kao Wen-tung (郭文東), Taoyuan District Prosecutors’ Office spokesman Dai Wen-liang (戴文亮) and three other prosecutors yesterday morning met Tsao at the Military High Court’s Prosecutors’ Office.
After a two-hour meeting, Kao said that prosecutors had been allowed to take away a box of material evidence for their investigation, adding that the military had promised to cooperate with their probe.
Dai later said Taoyuan district prosecutors had gained access to the 269th Brigade’s base in Taoyuan to inspect the confinement facilities where Hung was detained.
Investigators inspected the detention barracks’ surveillance facilities and sketched the area’s layout.
Dai also said his office had received a document from the Military High Court’s Prosecutors’ Office on Saturday requesting it be involved in any investigation into the missing portion of surveillance video.
He added that his office had concluded that if Colonel Chen Yi-ming (陳毅銘), director of the 269th Brigade’s Political Warfare Office, had ordered the destruction of the 80-minute recording, then he would have committed a criminal offense.
Chen yesterday said he would fully cooperate with the probe, stating that he believed the investigation would prove his innocence.
Hung’s sister, Hung Tzu-yung (洪慈庸), said the military’s assertion that all 16 surveillance cameras had stopping working simultaneously treated her family like idiots.
Hung’s family also issued a statement yesterday, saying they do not trust military prosecutors to handle the case independently and hoping Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) will demonstrate his regret over the case by ordering civil prosecutors to take charge of the investigation.
The statement added that Deputy Minister of National Defense Andrew Yang (楊念祖) had promised attendees at a rally in Taipei on Saturday that military and civil prosecutors would jointly investigate the case.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) also said during his visit to Hung’s family on Saturday that he would do his best to meet the family’s requests for an independent investigation.
However, Hung’s family said the defense ministry had confirmed late on Saturday night that the case would continue to be handled by the military.
“There have been so many high-ranking officials offering apologies and promises, but we want an investigation we can trust rather than their beautiful words,” the family said in the statement.
Hung collapsed from heatstroke after drilling on July 3 and died in hospital a day later, just three days before he was due to be discharged at the end of his year’s compulsory military service.
Tens of thousands protesters demonstrated in front of the ministry in Taipei on Saturday, demanding that the military reveal the truth about Hung’s death and bring the perpetrators to justice.