President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday said he expected the military court to handle the trials of those indicted over the death of army conscript Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘) fairly and justly, and pledged government efforts to facilitate amendments of military laws to improve human rights in the military.
Speaking at the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) Central Standing Committee following the indictment of 18 senior and non-commissioned officers, Ma said the prosecution will be only the first step taken to prevent similar incidents.
“I will continue to pay great attention to the case and oversee the situation. The government will take more action and carry out reforms to prevent similar incidents in the future,” he said at the KMT headquarters in Taipei.
The 18 defendants were indicted yesterday over the death of Hung, a 24-year-old army conscript who collapsed from heat stroke on July 3 in a military confinement facility after being forced to perform physically demanding drills.
He died one day later, only two days before he was to be discharged from his one-year compulsory military service.
The incident has sparked a public uproar against the military and the governments’ perceived negligence, and prompted Ma to offer an apology while promising on several occasions to uncover the truth regarding the case.
Ma reiterated his determination to speed up military reforms, and instructed the ministry to examine the military’s disciplinary and appeals systems.
Amid the Hung family’s demands for the case to be handled by civilian courts, Ma said the case would be tried in accordance with the Criminal Code of the Armed Forces (陸海空軍刑法) and related military laws, but said the Executive Yuan would work with the Judicial Yuan, the Ministry of Justice and the Legislative Yuan to amend related laws.
“The Ministry of National Defense is open to the proposed amendments, and I expect the efforts to improve the military systems,” he said.
Ma defended the necessity of solid training and strict discipline in the armed forces, but promised to protect the human rights and dignity of soldiers while implementing military reforms.