The inaccurate application of the statute of limitations in a case of faulty forensic testimony demonstrates the Control Yuan’s ineptitude, lawyers associated with the Judicial Reform Foundation said yesterday in a protest outside the Control Yuan.
The foundation called for the resignation of Control Yuan members Lin Ya-feng (林雅鋒), Fang Wan-fu (方萬富) and Chiang Ming-chang (江明蒼), and Control Yuan Vice President Sun Ta-chuan (孫大川), who had refused to impeach Institute of Forensic Medicine section chief Shaw Kai-ping (蕭開平) on the grounds that the statute of limitations on his flawed 2007 testimony had expired.
Shaw, based on photographic evidence, testified in 2007 that the burns on the body of businessman Huang Chun-shu (黃春樹), who was kidnapped and murdered in 1995, were caused by sulfuric acid, overturning previous testimony that they were caused by a fire.
His testimony played a role in the conviction and sentencing to death of Hsu Tzu-chiang (徐自強), whose conviction was last year overturned by the Supreme Court, concluding a 20-year legal battle in which he received representation and assistance from the foundation.
A Control Yuan report dated June 14 said that Shaw testifying based solely on photographic evidence was scientifically flawed and violated the Forensic Pathologist Act (法醫師法), but declined to impeach him on the grounds that the statute of limitations had expired.
The Control Yuan’s refusal to impeach Shaw drew criticism from foundation lawyers, who said it had previously refused to investigate when the case was still ongoing.
“In 2015, it [the Control Yuan] refused to look into the case because it was still in the judicial process, and now that it is out and the statute of limitations has expired, it is using the statute of limitations as a new excuse,” foundation chairman Joseph Lin (林永頌) said.
Lin said the statute of limitations should be calculated from 2011 — when Shaw repeated his testimony in court — rather than 2007, when it was originally provided.
He also took issue with the Control Yuan’s ruling that Shaw’s offense would have merited only a light penalty, rather than heavier punishments such as dismissal or pension revocation, for which there is no statute of limitations.
Deciding on penalties is the duty of the Public Functionary Disciplinary Sanction Commission, to which the Control Yuan should have sent Shaw’s case after determining his testimony had violated the Forensic Pathologist Act, Lin said.
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