Court offers NT$15m to compensate Hsichih Trio

PRICE OF FREEDOM::The court said that since the men bore some responsibility for their wrongful conviction, they were ineligible for the maximum compensation

By Jake Chung  /  Staff writer, with CNA

Thu, Apr 11, 2013 - Page 3

The “Hsichih Trio” — Su Chien-ho (蘇建和), Liu Bing-lang (劉秉郎) and Chuang Lin-hsun (莊林勳) — are eligible to receive about NT$5 million (US$172,900) each in compensation for wrongful conviction and imprisonment, the Taiwan High Court ruled yesterday.

Su, Liu and Chuang were accused of taking part in the robbery and murder of Wu Min-han (吳銘漢) and his wife, Yeh Ying-lan (葉盈蘭), in then-Taipei County’s Sijhih (汐止) on March 24, 1991.

The three were imprisoned for 4,170 days before being released on their own recognizance in Jaunary 2003. The court finally found them not guilty in September last year, closing the 21-year-old case in accordance with the Fair and Speedy Criminal Trials Act (刑事妥速審判法).

The Taiwan High Court yesterday said that the men’s lawyers had sought the maximum compensation for wrongful detention — NT$5,000 per day, which would amount to NT$20.85 million per person — in accordance with the Act for Compensating Wrongful Detentions and Executions (刑事補償法).

However, the court felt that since the police had not tortured Su, Liu or Chuang, and the confessions that the three made in 1991 during questioning gave investigators and the courts reasonable cause to believe they were involved in the case, the men bore some responsibility for their detention.

The ruling stated that the amount of compensation that the three’s lawyers had requested, citing Article 6 of the Act for Compensating Wrongful Detentions and Executions, was too high. The court elected to calculate the compensation as stipulated by Article 7.

While Article 6 states that all wrongfully detained civilians may be eligible for compensation ranging from between NT$3,000 and NT$5,000 per day, Article 7 states that if a detainee is somewhat responsible for their detainment, they are only eligible for between NT$1,000 and NT$3,000 per day.

After taking into consideration that the three defendants had been 19-years-old when they were detained, the roles they played in the case, the losses they incurred, their degrees of responsibility for their detention, their levels of education and their vocations at the time of detention, the court awarded Su and Liu compensation of NT$1,300 per day for wrongful detention, and Chuang NT$1,200 per day.

The total compensation comes to NT$15 million, the court said, adding that the three may appeal the ruling.

The trio’s lawyer, You Po-hsaing (尤伯祥), said the ruling was unfair, adding that he would be filing an appeal on the behalf of his clients.

Su and the others also said that they were disappointed with the ruling, adding that it showed the court’s unwillingness to admit that it had made an error because it was still, on a certain level, claiming that they were guilty.

The director of the High Court’s Prosecutors’ Office, Chen Shou-huang (陳守煌), said that the office would convebe a group to study the case and decide whether to appeal the ruling.

Additional reporting by Hsiang Cheng-chen