The Taichung Branch of the Taiwan High Court yesterday ruled that death-row inmate Cheng Hsing-tse (鄭性澤) should be released on bail pending a retrial on the charges that have seen him imprisoned for 14 years, including 10 on death row.
The 49-year-old Cheng, who has always maintained his innocence, walked out of the Taichung Prison in the afternoon and was met by family members and supporters, including representatives of the Taiwan Association for Innocence and the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty.
After 5,231 days of incarceration, Cheng said: “This taste of freedom is a really great feeling.”
Photo: Hsu Kuo-chen, Taipei Times
“I have been imprisoned for the past 14 years, but now I am so happy that I can spend this Mother’s Day with my family,” he said as he embraced his mother.
Some supporters came with sunflowers and handed one to Cheng, as they hailed his release as a victory for human rights and shouted: “Cheng is innocent of the crime” and “We don’t want to have any more wrongful convictions.”
Cheng’s attorney Law Bing-cheng (羅秉成) said the day has been late in coming because his client is innocent and has been jailed for too long.
“Today he is set free, and for this we have to thank the prosecutors and the judges. This case has also set milestones in Taiwan’s judiciary, because it is the first time that a man whose death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court is going to receive a retrial. I am certain Cheng has the courage to face the retrial so that he can clear his name,” Law said.
Yesterday’s decision barred Cheng from leaving the country or going out to sea.
Cheng’s case has gone through seven trials and seven retrials, including the Supreme Court upholding his death sentence in 2006.
A retrial was ordered after Cheng’s defense team presented new evidence raising doubts about his conviction for the death of police officer Su Hsien-pi (蘇憲丕) during an exchange of gunfire at a KTV parlor in Taichung in 2002 and prosecutors concurred.
The prosecutors’ application in March for a retrial was the first time in the nation’s history that a retrial has been sought in a case where the Supreme Court’s final ruling upheld the original death sentence.
Cheng is the fifth death row inmate to be released from prison for a retrial, including the Hsichih Trio case of Su Chien-ho (蘇建和), Liu Bin-lang (劉秉郎) and Chuang Lin-hsun (莊林勳), who were found not guilty in 2012.
Human rights groups have long highlighted what they said were defects in the original investigation and questionable evidence used by prosecutors, including a confession that Cheng had been tortured and coerced into making.
After re-examining the forensic evidence and findings from a new investigative report, Taichung prosecutor Wu Tsui-fang (吳萃芳) decided a retrial was needed because the evidence indicated that another suspect had fired the fatal gunshot that killed Su, not Cheng.
CALL FOR PEACE: Czech President Petr Pavel raised concerns about China’s military maneuvers in the Taiwan Strait and its ‘unfriendly action’ in the South China Sea The leaders of three diplomatic allies — Guatemala, Paraguay and Palau — on Tuesday voiced support for Taiwan’s inclusion in the UN on the first day of the UN General Debate in New York. In his address during the 78th UN General Assembly, Palauan President Surangel Whipps Jr urged the UN and all parties involved in cross-strait issues to exercise restraint and seek a peaceful resolution. “The well-being and prosperity of nations and their economies are intrinsically linked to global peace and stability,” he said. He also thanked partner nations such as Taiwan, Australia, Japan and the US for providing assistance
CROSS-STRAIT CONCERNS: At the same US Congress hearing, Mira Resnick said a US government shutdown could affect weapons sales and licenses to allies such as Taiwan A Chinese blockade of Taiwan would be a “monster risk” for Beijing and likely to fail, while a military invasion would be extremely difficult, senior Pentagon officials told the US Congress on Tuesday. Growing worries of a conflict come as China has ramped up military pressure on Taiwan, holding large-scale war games simulating a blockade on the nation, while conducting near-daily warplane incursions and sending Chinese vessels around its waters. US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Ely Ratner said a blockade would be “a monster risk for the PRC [People’s Republic of China].” “It would likely not succeed, and it
AMPHIBIOUS EXERCISES: The defense ministry said that it had detected 24 Chinese PLA Air Force planes entering Taiwan’s air defense zone over the previous 24 hours Chinese movements around Taiwan were “abnormal,” Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) said yesterday, flagging recent amphibious exercises in addition to drills Taipei has observed in China’s Fujian Province. Taiwan has reported a rise in Chinese military activity over the past week as dozens of fighters, drones, bombers and other aircraft, as well as warships, have operated around the nation. “Our initial analysis is that they are doing joint drills in September, including land, sea, air and amphibious,” Chiu told reporters at the legislature in Taipei. The “recent enemy situation is quite abnormal,” he said. The comments followed a statement from the
IN MOURNING: Tsai visited the site and spoke with family members of those killed, while all the major presidential candidates said they would temporarily halt campaigning A fire and subsequent explosions at a golf ball factory at Pingtung Technology Industrial Park (屏東科技產業園區) killed at least seven people, including four firefighters, and injured 98, while three were still missing, authorities said yesterday. The blaze at Launch Technologies Co’s (明揚國際) plant on Jingjian Road raged for more than 12 hours after it started at about 5pm on Friday, officials said. The Pingtung County Fire Bureau early yesterday used large excavators to search for missing people, while family members waited at the scene. Pingtung County Fire Bureau Director Hsu Mei-hsueh (許美雪) said the bureau received a call about the fire at 5:31pm