About 100 judicial reform activists and students gathered yesterday at Liberty Square in Taipei to remember air force serviceman Chiang Kuo-ching (江國慶), who was wrongfully executed 15 years ago, and to urge the government to sanction former minister of national defense Chen Chao-min (陳肇敏) and five other military officers involved in Chiang’s torture.
Holding up two large signs with the characters jiu ze (究責, “pursue responsibility”), the demonstrators observed 10 minutes and 10 seconds of silence beginning at 9:30am, as National Day celebrations began in front of the Presidential Office close to the square.
“Today [yesterday] would have been Chiang’s 37th birthday,” said Liao Tzu-fan (廖姿樊), a volunteer for event organizer Judicial Reform Foundation and spokeswoman for the event. “Chiang’s parents named him ‘Kuo-ching’ because he was born on National Day, and, ironically, he was wrongfully killed by the state.”
“We are here to remember Chiang and to tell the government that we care about holding those accountable who were involved in Chiang’s torture, which led to his death sentence,” she said. “We call on the judiciary to indict Chen and the other officers involved.”
Chiang was convicted of sexually assaulting and murdering a five-year-old girl at the Republic of China Air Force Combat Command in 1996 and was executed one year later at the age of 21.
However, his conviction and execution were last year proven to have rested on a coerced confession extracted by at least six officers by torture.
Although prosecutors found that the six officers were involved in torturing Chiang, they decided earlier this year not to indict them, saying they could not establish the connection between the act of torture and Chiang’s death sentence, and that the 10 year statute of limitation for the crime of torture had expired.
“Of course the act of torture led to the death sentence, that is very clear,” foundation executive secretary Chu Wan-ling (朱婉琳) said. “According to the Criminal Code, if an act of torture leads to the subsequent death of a person, then the statute of limitations is either 20 or 30 years depending on whether the new or old version of the law is applicable. But now that prosecutors have disconnected the cause from the consequence, Chen and other officers involved in the torture may dodge legal sanctions.”
Huang Man-ting (黃曼婷), a student at Soochow University, said that she took part in the rally because she believes that in a democracy with rule of law, those who make mistakes should be held accountable for their actions.
“Democracy is about responsibilities, it doesn’t make sense that the state admits that some officers made mistakes, but then also says that no one will be held responsible,” she said.