Following the discovery of the mistrial of Chiang Kuo-ching (江國慶), who confessed to a sexual assault allegedly after torture in 1996 and was executed the following year, some Control Yuan members yesterday called for a law revision to extend their power to intervene in similar cases in the future.
“If the Control Yuan had the ad-hoc power of investigation, we could have prevented such a mistrial, because there had been rumors that torture was involved at the time,” Control Yuan member Ma Yi-kung (馬以工) told a news conference at the legislature.
Ma went to the legislature to ask Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) for help in pushing for law revisions to give the Control Yuan more power.
Under the current system, the Control Yuan can only investigate the wrongdoing of public servants after the fact.
Chiang’s case took place in 1996 when he was serving in the air force. He was accused of sexually assaulting a young girl and was executed after he confessed to the crime.
However, in letters to his parents, Chiang said that he only confessed to the crime after he was tortured, adding that the military promised that it would try to “save” his life if he confessed.
Since then, Chiang’s family has been trying to prove his innocence, but their efforts were in vain until last month, when Hsu Jung-chou (許榮洲), another serviceman in the air force, confessed to the crime and evidence supported Hsu’s testimony.
Hsu had actually confessed to the crime in 1996, but was not taken seriously by the military prosecutor.
Another Control Yuan member, Shen Mei-chen (沈美真), who went to the legislature with Ma, said that the current system puts excessive limits on Control Yuan members’ powers.
“There’s no law penalizing -retired public servants who refuse to come to the Control Yuan for questioning when we request them to do so,” Shen said. “Take Chiang’s case for example; we asked several retired military officers who were involved in the case at the time to come talk to us, but they didn’t come and there’s nothing we can do about it.”
She added that lack of manpower was also an obstacle for Control Yuan members trying to probe cases.
Ting gave his full support to the two Control Yuan members’ proposal and said that the time limits on Control Yuan members investigating wrongdoing by public servants should be extended.
In Chiang’s case, Ting said, the Control Yuan cannot take further action because it happened over 10 years ago because they can only trace back wrongdoings by public servants as far as 10 years.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) had reservations about the proposed revision.
“I think we should be more cautious about making such changes in the law, because it’s the judiciary that should be in charge of investigating such cases or allegations of torture,” Huang told the press. “If the Control Yuan extends its power, it may be interfering with the judiciary. And what if it closes a case with a totally different conclusion from the judiciary’s?”
Based on the principle of separation of power, Huang also thinks the Control Yuan has enough manpower for what it’s supposed to do.
“There are more than 2,000 judges and prosecutors across the country versus 29 Control Yuan members — do you really think they could do a much better job than the judiciary if given more manpower?” Huang said. “Control Yuan members should focus on what they are supposed to do now, and not ask for more power.”