Prosecutors file for retrial of Gueiren murder case

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Sep 13, 2018 - Page 3

Tainan prosecutors yesterday said they have uncovered new evidence in a double-murder case in the city’s Gueiren District (歸仁) and have filed for a retrial, which could lead to overturning of the conviction of Hsieh Chih-hung (謝志宏), who has been on death row since a Taiwan High Court verdict in 2010.

Upon examining the case file on Hsieh, a three-page document was found where Hsieh, under police questioning, had listed the times and locations of his movements on the day of the murder, Prosecutor Lin Chih-feng (林志?) said at the Tainan Branch of the Taiwan High Prosecutors’ Office.

“This document had not previously been presented to the court,” Lin said. “With this new evidence, along with uncertainties and questions that surfaced throughout the trial, we believe the grounds for Hsieh’s conviction of the murders no longer exist and we are requesting a retrial of the case.”

Prosecutors have also filed an application for Hsieh’s conditional release pending the result of the retrial.

A young woman and an older man were found stabbed to death on June 23, 2000, and two male suspects, Kuo Chun-wei (郭俊偉) and Hsieh, were found guilty of murder in the first ruling on the case by the Tainan District Court in 2001.

Over seven retrials, Kuo and Hsieh were repeatedly convicted and handed the death sentence, with the case culminating in the Supreme Court rejecting an appeal and upholding the death sentence for the pair.

However, throughout the retrials, numerous doubts were raised as the defense pointed to a lack of proof and insufficient evidence to convict Hsieh.

The Taiwan Innocent Project and other human rights groups have filed nine extraordinary appeals to the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office.

Investigators said Kuo and Hsieh were friends and together picked up an 18-year-old woman surnamed Chen (陳) on their scooter.

Kuo then allegedly raped Chen and afterward the pair argued, with Kuo allegedly stabbing the woman to death with a knife.

The stabbing was witnessed by a farmer surnamed Chang (張), 68, and as Kuo and Hsieh wanted to cover up the murder they allegedly both used the knife to kill Chang.

In reviewing the evidence related to the case, Lin said he believed that Hsieh was at the scene of the murders, but that he had no motive to kill the pair and did not take part in the murder.

It was most likely that Kuo had carried out the killing of both victims, he said.

In their appeals, the defense pointed to the lack of grounds for the conviction, as no traces of blood were found on Hsieh’s clothing, nor on his scooter, and that no fingerprints were taken from the alleged murder weapon.

The defense also claimed that Hsieh was tortured by the police when questioned and that police had presented three separate statements from Hsieh, two of which were taken when Hsieh did not have his lawyer present.

In the third version, Hsieh denied participating in the crime, insisted that he was innocent and claimed that he was forced to sign a confession under duress.