The Taipei District Court yesterday sentenced Hsu Jung-chou (許榮洲), a suspect in a case that led to the wrongful execution of airman Chiang Kuo-ching (江國慶) over the rape and murder of a five-year-old girl in 1996, to 18 years in jail.
The court said the main evidence in the case is that Hsu left a bloody palm print at the scene of the crime, which matched all the characteristics of Hsu’s palm.
The court said Hsu confessed to committing the crime on Jan. 28 as he was questioned by prosecutors and later on when he was questioned by Taipei District Court judges.
The ruling said that on Sept. 12, 1996, Hsu, who was an airman assigned to the Air Force Command, saw the girl, surnamed Hsieh, watching TV alone at a restaurant at the base. He led the girl to a washroom and then took off her clothes before brutally assaulting her. To stifle the girl’s cries, he put his hand over her mouth and nose, smothering her.
The ruling added that Hsu, a pedophile with mental health issues, had difficulty controlling his behavior.
Hsu could appeal the ruling with the Taiwan High Court, the ruling said.
The case sparked controversy earlier this year when a new investigation determined that Chiang, who was also serving in the Air Force Command at the time of the murder and was convicted of the crime after a month-long military investigation and executed the following year, was innocent.
Chiang was 21 years old when he was executed.
The military court on September exonerated Chiang and agreed to pay Chiang’s family NT$103.18 million (US$3.4 million) in compensation.
Prosecutors are investigating whether former minister of national defense Chen Chao-min (陳肇敏), who was then commander of the air force, and seven other military officials had used inappropriate methods to coerce Chiang into confessing.
Prosecutors had said Chiang was tortured during questioning, including exposure to strong lights and being forced to watch a video of the girl’s autopsy. He was also threatened with an electric prod and deprived of sleep, while being forced to undergo strenuous physical activity.
The district court last month approved the provisional seizure of the assets of Chen and the seven others following a request by the Ministry of National Defense to prevent them from transferring funds from their bank accounts.