The Kaohsiung branch of the Taiwan High Court yesterday acquitted a man who has been serving a sentence for a 2004 murder.
The Pingtung District Court in 2007 sentenced Liu Cheng-fu (劉正富), from Pingtung County’s Taiwu Township (泰武鄉), to 10 years in jail for causing injuries that resulted in the death of Pao Ke-chiang (包克強).
Liu, now 47, said the incident took place when he tried to help his cousins who were embroiled in a dispute over their relationship with a woman and her friends.
The two groups agreed to discuss the matter on a road in front of Wanjin Military Base in Pingtung County’s Wanjin Village (萬金村), he said.
The talks on the night of Aug. 19, 2004, degenerated into a violent confrontation, with one side vastly outnumbered by the other group, who had brought a dozen men, he said.
Both sides used metal rods, wooden clubs and other weapons, he said.
Pao sustained the most serious injuries and died after being rushed to a local hospital.
Based on witness statements and evidence, investigators determined that Liu had caused Pao’s injuries.
In the second ruling by the High Court in 2008, Liu was found guilty of murder and received a 20-year sentence.
In a retrial by the High Court in 2011, Liu’s conviction was upheld on the lesser charge of causing injuries that resulted in death, and the sentence was reduced to nine years.
The retrial was upheld by the Supreme Court.
Liu’s family and the Taiwan Innocence Project filed three extraordinary appeals after raising questions over witness identification and evidence collection procedures.
In July 2013, Liu began serving his nine-year sentence as the Supreme Court considered the extraordinary appeals and re-examined the case.
In yesterday’s ruling, which can be appealed, the judges determined that the crime scene was too dark for witnesses to make a positive determination, while citing several inconsistencies in witness testimonies and improper evidence collection procedures.
They also pointed out that the previous rulings had rejected evidence provided by the defense of sale receipts made hours before the brawl, which Liu’s lawyer said provided an alibi.
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