Although the government last year reopened investigations into two suspected political murder cases, researchers who read reports produced by the renewed probe yesterday suggested the endeavor was not sincere.
At the request of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), the Taiwan High Prosecutors’ office reopened the investigations into the murder of former Democratic Progressive Party chairman Lin Yi-hsiung’s (林義雄) mother and twin daughters in 1980, and the death of professor Chen Wen-chen (陳文成) in 1981.
Lin’s family was murdered on Feb. 28, 1980, while he was being detained on charges of insurrection after co-organizing a demonstration against the authoritarian regime.
Lin’s mother and twin daughters were found stabbed to death at home, while his eldest daughter was seriously injured.
The perpetrator and motive were never established, but the killings are widely believed to have been politically motivated, with some suggesting security agencies were involved.
Chen’s death occurred the following year. A statistics professor at Carnegie Melon University, Chen returned to Taiwan in July 1981 to visit family.
As he had been a long-time supporter of the Taiwanese democracy movement, Chen was interrogated by the Taiwan Garrison Command, which led a crackdown on anti-government activities.
The next morning Chen was found dead on the campus of National Taiwan University.
Some suspected Chen was tortured to death by the Taiwan Garrison Command — allegations the agency denied.
The garrison command said Chen could have committed suicide or accidentally fallen off a balcony.
“We had high expectations when Ma announced the investigations into these cases would be reopened, but we were very disappointed when we read the report from the Taiwan High Prosecutor’s Office,” said Wu Nai-teh (吳乃德), a research fellow in sociology at Academia Sinica.
“The special investigation panel did not pursue the new evidence it had discovered. Maybe this shows what Ma really has in mind,” Wu told a forum organized by the Taiwan Association for Truth and Reconciliation.
In the case of Lin’s mother and daughters, the prosecutors found that the murderer made a phone call from Lin’s house to a restaurant after committing the crime, but did not say anything.
Although police knew about the call, that fact has been hidden for the past 30 years.
“The phone call may have been a signal from the killer to whoever ordered the murder of Lin’s family members, and could have been key evidence in breaking the case” Wu said. “The investigation panel could find something if it tried to find out why the phone call was concealed.”
In addition, instead of interviewing Lin’s neighbors and relatives — who may have been too scared to tell the truth 30 years ago — the investigation panel relied on interview material gathered in 1980, Wu said.
As for Chen’s case, attorney Arthur Shay (謝穎青) said he was disappointed that the panel had not looked into contradictions in the 1981 investigation report. The new report treated many questionable “facts” listed in the old report as accurate, Shay said.
“The [old] report says Chen fell from the east side of the library, but his body was found on the north side. It says no broken branches were found at the site, yet Chen would have fallen through bushes before hitting the ground on the north side if he fell from the east side as the report says,” Shay said.
Michael Lin (林世煜), an independent researcher into political persecution during the Martial Law era and a volunteer at the Dr Chen Wen-cheng Memorial Foundation, said the renewed investigations were not aimed at discovering the truth of the matter.
“They reopened the investigations only to close the cases,” Lin said. “They obviously just wanted to prove that security agencies were not behind [them].”
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