The family of late army corporal Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘) yesterday demanded that the Ministry of National Defense handle the probe into his death honestly and work to discover the truth as quickly as possible.
It was the first press conference that Hung’s parents, sister and uncle attended since Hung died from heat exhaustion on July 4 after participating in a training session the day before.
He had been serving in the army’s 542nd Brigade in Hsinchu County before he was transferred to the 269th Brigade in Taoyuan on June 28 for disciplinary action after he brought a smartphone with a camera onto a base without permission after returning from vacation on June 23.
He was placed in solitary confinement and was scheduled to be discharged on July 6.
“I still haven’t recovered from the sudden loss of my child. I can’t sleep ... The ministry should find the truth behind his death so mothers do not have to worry about having their children complete their military service,” Hung’s mother, Hu Su-chen (胡素真), said in tears.
A total of 37 military officers, including Army Commander General Lee Hsiang-chou (李翔宙), have been reprimanded by the ministry over the incident and the vice commander of the 542nd Brigade, Colonel Ho Chiang-chung (何江忠), was detained on Tuesday for his suspected role in the death.
However, several other sergeants, staff sergeants and lower-ranking officers who were possibly directly involved in Hung’s death have not been detained or subpoenaed by military prosecutors.
The Hung family’s lawyer, Chiu Hsien-chih (邱顯智), submitted three demands to the ministry on behalf of the family: that they be given the right to review all documents related to the ministry’s preliminary investigation, that the ministry act to secure all evidence as soon as possible and that a third party — preferably not within the military judicial system — be involved in the investigation.
The family also called for the legislature to establish its own investigation committee, if possible.
“It has been 13 days since Hung died. These demands have been made in fear of potential collusion and destruction of evidence within the army,” Chiu said.
Discussion at the press conference was focused on missing footage from surveillance cameras in Hung’s cell at the 813 Hospital, which approved Hung’s physical condition before his confinement, and Ten-chen General Hospital in Yangmei Township (楊梅), Taoyuan County, where he was pronounced dead.
Surveillance video footage from the hospitals may show how Hung was disciplined, how his supervisors reacted after he collapsed and how he was treated by medical staff, said Hung’s uncle, Hu Shih-ho (胡世和).
Senior military prosecutor Major-General Tsao Chin-sheng (曹金生) said that the video recording of Hung’s training session on July 1 — of which an 80-minute segment is reportedly missing — has been submitted to the Ministry of Justice’s Bureau of Investigation for examination. Tsao added that the location where Hung fell ill on July 3 is not covered by any camera.
Hu said Tsao’s remark about the cameras’ blind spot was suspicious.
“The Ministry of National Defense wants to find out the truth as much as the public does and it will hold all those found to be responsible for the incident accountable for their actions,” Chou Chih-jen (周志仁), director of the ministry’s Department of Legal Affairs, told the press conference.
Defense officials at the press conference said they could not interfere with military prosecutors’ investigation nor disclose information about the ongoing probe, but they gave assurances that all evidence collected would be secured.
After the press conference concluded, the Hungs made a separate appeal to the Control Yuan to conduct an independent investigation.