Lawmakers across party lines yesterday were divided over a decision by military prosecutors not to prosecute former minister of national defense Chen Chao-min (陳肇敏) and other military officers involved in the wrongful conviction of Chiang Kuo-ching (江國慶), who was executed 15 years ago.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said he was disappointed that the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office Special Investigation Panel (SIP) had chosen not to file charges.
“Justice hasn’t been served because those who wrongly convicted Chiang have not been held accountable. This is unacceptable. We reject the reasoning that the case has exceeded the statute of limitations,” Tsai said.
Chiang was found guilty of raping and murdering a five-year-old girl in 1996 and executed the next year. The Military Supreme Court Prosecutors’ Office reopened the case in June last year after the Control Yuan censured the original military court over the case, citing seven major flaws in the trial, which included the coercion of Chiang’s confession by military investigators.
Chen, who at the time was chief of the air force, was one of about 30 current and former officers involved in Chiang’s arrest, trial and execution. The government watchdog found that he erred in appointing counterintelligence officers to investigate the case and claimed during the investigation that Chiang had admitted to him of committing the crime.
“Evidently, Chen and other military officers were guilty of misusing the law in the adjudication of this case,” Tsai said.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Hsieh Kuo-liang (謝國樑) said the KMT caucus respected the SIP’s decision not to prosecute, but insisted that Chen and other military officers involved should be held administratively accountable.
Control Yuan members Ma Yi-kung (馬以工) and Shen Mei-chen (沈美真), who led the investigation into the case, yesterday called for a speedy trial to clear Chiang’s name and for the withdrawal of awards conferred on military officers for solving the case.
Ma said that the indictment written by the Military Supreme Court Prosecutors’ Office could have a revolutionary impact on the use of confessions in criminal cases.
Both he and Shen declined to answer questions on what the Control Yuan might do to hold Chen and the other officers accountable, but said the case would be reopened if Chiang’s family or lawyers filed an appeal with the Control Yuan against Chen.
However, Shen said that it was unlikely that Chen’s administratively responsibility would be re-examined as the statute of limitations for civil servants in such cases is 10 years, as prescribed in the Act on Discipline of Civil Servants (公務員懲戒法).
Even if the act was amended as suggested by some lawmakers, it could still not be applied retroactively, Shen said.
“Being found guilty in the court of public opinion and bringing the real murderer to justice is the best punishment for Chen,” Shen said.