Under tremendous public pressure following the death of army corporal Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘), the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus yesterday agreed to make amending the Code of Court Martial Procedure (軍事審判法) the top item on the agenda of the extra legislative session.
The amendment, if passed, would transfer jurisdiction of some military criminal cases, such as abuse, to the civilian judiciary during peacetime.
By removing the referendum proposal over the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant as its top priority, KMT caucus whip Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) said that the party would not push the proposal for the remainder of the extra session and that the KMT never intended to bundle the two issues.
However, Lin said the nuclear referendum proposal is still an important issue and the KMT would not rule out convening a third extra session to handle it.
The KMT’s concession was likely in part due to the mass rally on Saturday in which up to 200,000 people protested against what they said was the military’s poor investigation into the Hung case.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus convener Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said that his party welcomed the KMT’s conciliatory move.
The DPP has insisted that all legal cases in peacetime should be handed to civilian prosecutors and opposed the KMT’s two-phase plan to revise related military laws, arguing that the plan could end up accomplishing nothing after a prolonged process.
Transferring all military legal cases in peacetime to civilian prosecutors would require the amendment of several pieces of legislation, including the Code of Court Martial Procedure, the Code of Criminal Procedure (刑事訴訟法), the National Security Act (國家安全法), the Criminal Code of the Armed Forces (陸海空軍刑法), the Criminal Code and the organic law of the Ministry of National Defense.
The Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) also supported the amendment and said that the change would not affect military training and capability.
TSU caucus convener Hsu Chung-hsin (許忠信) said the party would vacate the podium if the KMT agreed not to bundle the amendment and the nuclear referendum proposal, but reiterated that the TSU opposed convening a third extra session.
Hung Chung-chiu’s sister, Hung Tzu-yung (洪慈庸), yesterday visited all legislative caucuses to garner support for the amendment, with her attention focused on the KMT caucus, which had insisted that the nuclear referendum proposal was still its No. 1 priority.
KMT Secretary-General Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) also created controversy as he said the DPP was the party that was blocking the amendment of the military law.
“If it was not the DPP, which has tried to block a vote on the referendum proposal since the beginning of the extra session by occupying the podium, the amendment would have been screened and passed,” Lai said.
In related developments, after negotiations yesterday, the KMT and DPP caucuses agreed to drop a proposed amendment over the referendum in the current legislative session, which ends today. Soon afterward, DPP legislators began removing their sleeping bags and items they had used to block the podium at the legislature.
The next regular session is scheduled to begin on Sept. 17
Legislators also agreed that 16 more public hearings should be held before the service trade agreement is screened in the legislature.