The Taiwan High Court yesterday began the second trial of 18 military officers indicted over the death of army corporal Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘) last year, with all defendants declaring their innocence.
The Taoyuan District Court on March 17 found 13 of the military officials guilty of abusing their power by restricting Hung’s personal freedom when they placed him in disciplinary confinement, and sentenced them to between three and eight months in prison. The remaining five were found innocent.
The verdict sparked an angry reaction from the Hung family, who said the sentences were too light. They pleaded with the High Court for justice.
During the hearing, High Court Presiding Judge Liang Yao-pin (梁耀鑌) ordered all 18 to make a statement about the charges.
Former company commander Major Hsu Shin-cheng (徐信正) of the 542nd Brigade and four other defendants expressed their apologies to the Hung family. The remaining 13 said they did nothing to break the law.
“Do any defendants confess to the charges?” Liang asked.
He said whether defendants confess to the charges or reach a settlement with the victim’s family would affect the sentence.
“None of the defendants confessed to the charges, and not one has negotiated a settlement with the Hung family, meaning they have shown no remorse,” Taiwan High Court Prosecutor Hsu Yung-chin (許永欽) told the court.
Hsu added that the evidence shows that the defendants “abused and tortured a serviceman for fun.”
The 24-year-old Hung collapsed from heatstroke after participating in punishment exercises on July 3 last year and died in hospital a day later, just three days before he was due to be discharged from compulsory military service.
The family said the case should not be viewed as an act of professional negligence or an infringement on his personal liberty, but rather a move intended to hurt or torture him to death.