Minister of National Defense Kao Hua-chu (高華柱) yesterday said the ministry hoped to clear the name of Chiang Kuo-ching (江國慶), who was wrongfully executed by the military 14 years ago for the rape and murder of a five-year-old girl, within six months.
Kao said that while he has no control over the duration of legal proceedings, the ministry aims to fulfill the request by Chiang’s family in less than six months, if all goes well.
“Our attitude is there can be no mistake again during the process,” he said. “That is the basic principle.”
The ministry has apologized twice to Chiang’s family.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who visited the family on Tuesday, told reporters he had instructed the ministry and the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) to fully assist the family so Chiang’s name could be cleared and his family could obtain compensation.
Chiang’s mother and uncle have said they care more about clearing his name than receiving compensation.
Kao said Ma had instructed the justice ministry to help the family seek compensation and file for a retrial at the Military High Court.
As Chiang’s family has requested that his conviction and death sentence be revoked, Kao said the government would adopt the fastest legal approach.
Ma on Tuesday said a retrial would probably be the least time-consuming and vowed the administration would do its best to shorten the process.
Meanwhile, Presidential Office spokesman Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) said there were many ways by which Chiang’s name could be cleared, including a retrial or presidential pardon.
Lo’s remark came in the wake of an open letter by former Democratic Progressive Party chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) to Ma, urging him to grant Chiang a presidential pardon.
Lo said the administration would take Shih’s suggestion into consideration, adding that Ma would invite legal experts to discuss possible solutions — including a retrial or a presidential pardon.
“The goal is to declare Chiang innocent as quickly as possible and to help his family obtain compensation,” Lo said.
Chiang was executed on Aug. 13, 1997, but his family continued to fight to clear his name. The defense ministry filed an extraordinary appeal and reopened the case after the Control Yuan censured it over the case in May last year.
A report by the Control Yuan suggested that Hsu Jung-chou (許榮洲), who has a record of sexual offenses, committed the crime. It said that Hsu confessed to the crime two months before Chiang was convicted, giving a clear account of the girl’s clothing and details of the crime.
However, a psychiatric examination concluded that Hsu was mentally retarded, making his confession invalid, the report said.
Hsu was convicted of raping another six-year-old girl in May 1997 in Taichung. He served only four years in prison after his sentence was commuted. He was convicted of kidnapping and sexually abusing two more five-year-old girls in April 2003 and was sentenced to four years in prison. He was released in September last year.