The Taiwan High Court yesterday upheld an earlier ruling that army personnel were responsible for the death of Hung Wen-pu (洪文璞), a conscript who committed suicide after being bullied, and said that Hung’s parents should receive NT$2.86 million (US$94,483) in compensation from Army Command Headquarters.
The compensation was increased from the NT$1.97 million ordered in the first ruling at the district court.
However, yesterday’s ruling can be appealed.
In the first trial, the district court found platoon leader Hao Cheng (郝錚), Hung’s immediate superior when he served at Army Command Headquarters in 2008, guilty of physical abuse of a subordinate and sentenced Hao to one year in prison.
Several other army officers, non-commissioned officers and others who were found to have been involved in bullying Hung received demerits or were given cautions.
Hung killed himself by jumping off of a building at a training camp in Nantou County in August 2008.
Hung’s mother went public about her son’s death in 2014, when she railed against Hung’s unit for bullying him and contributing to his suicide, complaining that Army Command Headquarters and Ministry of National Defense officials has colluded in covering up his death.
Hung had earned a master’s degree in physics from National Taiwan University before being called up in March 2008 to begin his mandatory military service when he was 27.
He was assigned to work at the accounting office of the Army Command Headquarters.
His mother said Hung had told her that he was the target of bullying, with his superiors often criticizing him and saying things like: “You have an advanced university degree, but you cannot even perform simple tasks,” “You are an idiot ! How many times do we have to teach you how to do this work?”
“He received vicious verbal abuse so often that he broke down and cried during work at least six times,” she said.
An investigation by prosecutors determined that Hung suffered from depression and emotional problems from the abuse and verbal bullying, which sometimes came in the form of threats against Hung.
The courts ruled that the verbal abuse had directly contributed to Hung being unable to cope with the distress, and led to commit suicide.
In the first ruling, the court heard from testimony that prior to entering the military, Hung was known as a jovial, friendly, open-minded guy.
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