Lawmakers and rights groups yesterday called for a retrial or an extraordinary appeal for death row inmate Cheng Hsin-tze (鄭性澤), who was convicted of murdering a police officer in a case activists called “an obvious miscarriage of justice.”
“No clear evidence proved that Cheng shot a police officer in Fongyuan District (豐原), Greater Taichung, on Jan. 5, 2002, but he was still given the death penalty,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) told a press conference.
There were numerous flaws in the handling of the crime scene and the interrogation, and the judges presiding over the case were ignorant of evidence favoring the defendant, lawyer Law Bing-ching (羅秉成) said.
Cheng was accused of killing police officer Su Hsian-pi (蘇憲丕) with a Glock handgun in a shootout at a KTV, where Cheng, Luo Wu-hsiung (羅武雄) and four other men were partying. Luo also died in the shootout.
Cheng’s conviction was based on a confession, allegedly extracted through torture, and the testimony of witnesses, Law said.
Police investigators failed to take photographs of the crime scene, note the positions of the guns involved, collect fingerprints from the guns or perform ballistic analysis, the lawyer added.
However, throughout the 21 court proceedings relating to the case, the judges failed to recognize these errors, he said.
Citing the “Hsichih Trio” case, in which three former death row inmates were cleared of murder charges on Sept. 1, but only after 21 years of trials and appeals, Law said Cheng’s case “was simpler” and “it did not take a genius to know there were many things wrong in the investigation.”
A ballistic analysis would be enough to prove that Cheng did not fire one shot and a blood splatter analysis would also show that Cheng could not possibly have changed his position after being shot in the leg and fired at Su as the police investigators claimed, Law said.
“But those reports, along with the police department’s video recordings, have been missing from start to finish,” the lawyer said.
That was why legislators and rights groups demanded that the police submit all available information and a retrial be held, Law said.
DPP Legislator Yu Mei-nu (尤美女) appealed to Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming (黃世銘), saying Huang “would not be comfortable with signing Cheng’s execution order.”
“If the Hsichih Trio could be proved innocent after 21 years in a case which was much more complicated than Cheng’s, I don’t understand why Cheng does not at least deserve a retrial,” DPP Legislator Wu Yi-chen (吳宜臻) said.