The family of an army conscript who died under suspicious circumstances earlier this month filed a complaint with the Taoyuan District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday asking it to press criminal charges against those responsible for his death.
Corporal Hung Chung-chiu’s (洪仲丘) sister, accompanied by a team of lawyers, filed the complaint and said she hoped that the involvement of civilian prosecutors in the military’s investigation would help speed up the inquiry.
Wellington Koo (顧立雄), the head of the family’s legal team, said the complaint did not identify specific defendants and covered several alleged criminal acts, including destruction of evidence, forgery of documents and manslaughter.
Taoyuan prosecutors have sometimes appeared reluctant to investigate the circumstances of Hung’s death while the military prosecutors are conducting their probe.
However, on Sunday they confirmed they would investigate allegations that evidence was destroyed in the military confinement facility in Taoyuan where he was held, because military law does not cover such a crime.
Koo said he hoped that prosecutors would go further and investigate more than just the possible destruction of evidence.
Because key events surrounding Hung’s death took place on the 269th Brigade’s base in Taoyuan, the local prosecutors’ office should take the initiative to investigate any incidents where criminal acts may have occurred, Koo said.
Hung’s family filed their complaint after watching surveillance video from the 269th Brigade’s detention facility, in the hopes that it would shed light on how Hung was treated while in confinement and while performing exercise drills.
However, the viewing session, which lasted from Monday afternoon to 5am yesterday, seemed to leave the family with more questions.
Hung’s uncle, Hu Shih-ho (胡世和), was especially disappointed that an 80-minute section of video that would have shown the soldier being put through strenuous exercises as part of his punishment on July 1 was still missing.
Hu said he expected to see actual footage from the section after the Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau said on Friday that it had “restored” the missing part of the video, but it was still blank.
Hu also questioned the appearance at a military hospital of a non-commissioned officer who allegedly helped expedite the results of a physical examination that Hung was required to take before being placed in detention.
The medical report, which normally takes several days to process, was completed within hours in Hung’s case, making it possible for him to be placed in disciplinary confinement on June 28 for what was supposed to be a week-long stay.
Staff Sergeant Fan Tso-hsien’s (范佐憲) appearance at the hospital was definitely suspicious, Hu said.
Fan is one of four officers who have been taken into custody by military prosecutors.
Hu said he was also concerned that military personnel involved in the case could still potentially to destroy evidence and collude with each other on their testimony.
“Our family’s wish is that all evidence is left intact and that a third party be involved in the investigation,” Hu said.
In related news, chief military prosecutor Major General Tsao Chin-sheng (曹金生) denied media allegations that Hung had been tortured to death.
“Hung received inappropriate physical punishment, but saying that he was ‘tortured to death’ is too much,” Tsao told a press conference.
Regarding the missing section of surveillance footage, Tsao said that when military prosecutors inspected the footage on July 10 and discovered that parts of it were blank, they immediately sealed the video recorder and sent it to the Bureau of Investigation.
The bureau concluded that from June 28 — the day Hung was put in confinement — until July 3, when he was sent to hospital, all closed-circuit TV cameras monitoring the detention barracks operated without stopping and no one turned off the recording machine, Tsao said.
No files have been deleted from the recorder’s hard disk, he added.
Military prosecutors and the Taoyuan District Prosecutors’ Office are both looking into why a key 80-minute portion of the surveillance covering 2pm to 3:20pm on July 1 is blank, Tsao said.
Meanwhile, the Military High Court yesterday rejected a request by the Military High Court’s Prosecutors’ Office to detain Captain Liu Yen-chun (劉延俊), the vice company director of the 542nd Brigade.
The prosecutors made the request on Monday, alleging that Liu had abused his position to obstruct the freedom of a subordinate and imposed punishment that was not sanctioned by law.
The court said Liu had committed no obvious violations.
Military prosecutors have appealed the ruling to the Supreme Military High Court, Tsao said.
Additional reporting by Rich Chang