Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers yesterday urged the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to remove KMT Legislator Chen Cheng-hsiang (陳鎮湘) after he blocked revisions to military laws to transfer jurisdiction of some military criminal cases to the civilian judiciary during peacetime.
At a press conference, DPP lawmakers also accused Chen, a retired general and legislator-at-large of mishandling at least four cases which were all closed as cases of suicide while he was serving as commander of the Kinmen Defense Command and as an army commander.
Chen created controversy last week in the Legislative Yuan with his attempts to blocks revisions to the Code of Court Martial Procedure (軍事審判法), and with his comments that he trusted the military judiciary more than the civilian judiciary and that transferring cases from the jurisdiction of military prosecutors to civilian prosecutors would “destroy the military.”
“Chen has apparently gone against the Executive Yuan’s decisions on military reform and amending related military laws and deserves to be fired [by the KMT],” DPP Legislator Chen Shi-mai (陳其邁) told the press conference.
A pair of suicides in Kinmen, which occurred in July 1996 and August 1997 while Chen was in charge of the Kinmen Defense Command, were hastily closed, while the other two cases, which took place in April 1999 in Penghu and in January 2000 in Taichung, that were closed as being suicides are suspected by some people of being homicide, DPP Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) said.
Yeh said the four cases should be reinvestigated if the Executive Yuan is to live up to its pledge to establish a special commission to reinvestigate possible cases of human rights abuses in the military.
Chen yesterday acknowledged that military abuse cases should be dealt with properly, but denied his objection to the amendment, saying that he opposed the “amendment without supplementary measures.”
Under the amendment, the definition of abuse would be ambiguous, he said, adding that military training, which emphasizes discipline and strenuous drills, could be viewed by civilian courts as borderline abuse, and that would be unfair.
“How are we suppose to fight the nation’s enemies if military commanders have to spend a lot of time in court?” he asked.
Civic group Citizen 1985, organizer of a mass protest on Saturday last week over the death of army corporal Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘), published Chen’s office telephone numbers and urged the public to overload the lines to protest his attempts to block revisions to the law.