A man who has spent the past 16 years in jail in one of the longest-running murder cases in the nation’s history is to be released on bail today in accordance with the Fair and Speedy Criminal Trials Act (刑事妥速審判法).
Hsu Tzu-chiang (徐自強) had initially been sentenced to death for his role in the 1995 kidnapping and murder of real-estate agent Huang Chun-shu (黃春樹). The death sentence was upheld in subsequent retrials, but was reduced to life in jail in the ninth trial. The sentence was reduced to life on a charge of kidnapping, as the court found that there was insufficient evidence to link Hsu to Huang’s murder.
The Taiwan High Court yesterday upheld the sentence of life in jail.
However, since Hsu has already spent 16 years in detention awaiting a final verdict, he is to be released today in accordance with the speedy trials act.
Hsu is one of three people convicted in the Huang case. The real-estate agent was kidnapped outside his home and killed shortly afterwards. His body was disfigured and abandoned in the countryside in the then-Taipei county.
Attempts by Huang’s kidnappers to secure a ransom from his family enabled police to track down Hsu and two other suspects. The other two, Huang Ming-chuan (黃銘泉) and Chen Yi-lung (陳憶隆), were found guilty of murder and remain on death row.
The speedy trials act, which was approved in April 2010, states that a court can detain a defendant awaiting a final verdict for no more than eight years. Hsu, who can still appeal the latest verdict, is to become the first defendant to be released in accordance with the new law.
Taiwan High Court spokesman Hung Kuang-tsan (洪光燦) told a press conference that Hsu would be released today.
To ensure that Hsu would attend any future trials, the court ordered him released on NT$2.5 million (US$84,000) bail. However, even if Hsu fails to pay the bail, the law still applies and he would be released.
The Ministry of Justice said Hsu would be free before noon today.
Hsu’s mother, Chen Hsiu-chin (陳秀琴), said outside the court yesterday that she was still angry.
“My son is innocent. If he really committed the crime, why has the case dragged on for more than 10 years, and why were the courts unable to find sufficient evidence to wrap up his case? I feel upset and I think the ruling is a joke,” she said.
She added she planned to appeal the verdict against her son to the Supreme Court.