Wed, Jun 10, 2015 - Page 4 News List

Rights groups urge retrial of death-row inmate’s case

WRONGLY ACCUSED?Two former police officers are willing to testify Chiu Ho-shun was tortured into confessing to a murder. Chiu said he was shocked and beaten unconscious

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

A masked protester, right, yesterday holds a cardboard cutout of a death-row inmate Chiu Ho-shun during a demonstration organized by Amnesty International and Taiwan’s Judicial Reform Foundation outside the Ministry of Justice in Taipei.

Photo: CNA

Representatives from Amnesty International and the Judicial Reform Foundation yesterday called for a retrial for death-row inmate Chiu Ho-shun (邱和順), saying the state might execute an innocent man falsely convicted of murder.

Chiu, 55, has been on death row since 1989 after being sentenced to death for robbery, kidnapping and murder despite several retrials.

“This case has long been a stain on Taiwan’s judicial system and the High Court now has the opportunity to right this wrong,” Amnesty International East Asia research director Roseann Rife said in a statement, citing a “serious miscarriage of justice” in Chiu’s case.

“This is one of Taiwan’s most protracted criminal cases, with repeated appeals over the past three decades, in which parts of [Chiu’s] forced confession have continued to be permitted as evidence in court. No material evidence linking Chiu to the crimes has ever been presented,” the statement said.

A retired policeman surnamed Wu (吳) attended yesterday’s rally in front of the Ministry of Justice in Taipei.

“Chiu is innocent. He signed the confession after being tortured. I want to let the public know the truth about this case, because I cannot bear to see a man wrongfully executed,” Wu said.

Wu said he escorted Chiu to interrogations in 1988, and, although he did not witness the torture, Wu said he heard Chiu cry out in agony from some form of beating, adding that is willing to appear court, if called upon to testify.

Two other defendants who served prison terms in the case, Lin Kun-ming (林坤明) and Lin Hsin-chun (林信純) attended the rally.

Both men proclaimed their and Chiu’s innocence in the case. Chiu was alleged to be the mastermind of a 12-person group that kidnapped two people for ransom in 1987, which resulted in the death of the two victims.

Foundation executive secretary Hsiao Yi-ming (蕭逸民) said there was another retired policeman, who was also involved in transferring Chiu from his cell to the interrogations, willing to testify, and that, based on new testimony from the police officers, Chiu’s lawyers can file a motion for a retrial.

Throughout the lengthy trials, defense lawyers and legal reform groups have maintained that convictions for at least six of the alleged group members relied on confessions extracted under duress, and that concrete material evidence was lacking in Chiu’s and other convictions.

According to Amnesty International, the interrogations lasted up to 10 hours at a time, where five or six people beat Chiu to unconsciousness. Chiu described being blindfolded, tied up, forced to sit on ice, subjected to electric shocks with an electric baton and having water mixed with pepper poured into his mouth and nose during questioning.

Hsiao said two investigative reports by the Control Yuan in recent years called for the prosecutor-general to launch an extraordinary appeal, citing numerous contradictions between the confessions and available evidence, numerous breaches of the judicial process and Chiu’s time on death row and in detention.

The case received international attention in 2011 after the death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court in July 2011, with Amnesty International initiating a global urgent action campaign to appeal for Chiu.

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