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Wed, Nov 01, 2000 - Page 3 News List

Fate of death row inmate lies with Control Yuan

INJUSTICE?Whether or not Hsu Tzu-chiang, who human rights campaigners say was convicted of kidnapping and murder in an unfair trial, is executed depends on the findings of a Control Yuan report

By Jou Ying-cheng  /  STAFF REPORTER

In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling that the Hsichih Trio be given another trial, new attention has been given to another death row inmate, whose conviction is also allegedly based on flimsy evidence.

The state's watchdog Control Yuan has finished its examination into the Hsu Tzu-chiang (徐自強) case. But before the official investigation report is published the conclusion of the investigative force remains confidential.

Hsu, 31, was sentenced to death for the kidnapping and murder of a man in 1995.

His family and human rights campaigners argue that the case is just another example of the prosecution and courts using only partial testimonies to allow a conviction in a case that lacked material evidence.

Hsu turned himself in when two alleged accomplices, Huang Chun-chi (黃春棋) and Chen Yi-lung (陳憶龍), were sentenced to death by the Shihlin District Court. The two incriminated Hsu.

Hsu has never admitted that he was guilty.

Hsu's conviction was finalized on April 27 this year by the Supreme Court.

Following a campaign by human rights group the Judicial Reform Foundation (民間司法改革基金會), three Control Yuan members in May began an investigation to determine whether the legal procedure in the case was flawed.

One of the three Control Yuan members, Li Shen-yi (李伸一), told the Taipei Times on Monday that the investigation has been completed and a report is being compiled.

But he declined to release any information regarding the conclusion of the report before it has been discussed by a committee, which he said would be "soon."

But apart from the results of the investigation, human rights activists are also very much concerned about when the Control Yuan will return the materials of the case to the Ministry of Justice.

"The reason why Hsu has not yet been executed, ironically, is that the Control Yuan took the materials from the justice ministry early enough and has not yet returned them," Sue Wang (王時思), secretary-general of the Judicial Reform Foundation, said.

The justice minister needs to examine the materials to sign a death warrant.

Wang's remarks, she said, were supported by previous experience when another controversial death row convict, Lu Cheng (盧正), was executed in September after the Control Yuan had decided to launch an investigation into the case.

The Control Yuan had phoned the justice ministry to ask it to provide the materials on the case, but had not managed to send an official document asking the ministry to do so.

The justice ministry, for its part, has expressed concern that the slow pace of Control Yuan investigations in such cases might cause trouble for the ministry.

Campaigners for Hsu have been keeping close watch on the progress of the Control Yuan investigation.

"We ask Control Yuan members to make the report public as soon as they finish it and before they return the original materials to the justice ministry," the campaigners said.

The Control Yuan can impeach and condemn public officials for their faults. However, its resolutions have no legal grounds to overturn court rulings.

"But if the Control Yuan does find prosecutors and judges in the case did do wrongs, then the justice minister must to reconsider whether he should sign the death warrant," Joseph Lin (林永頌), a lawyer at the foundation, said.

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