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Defense ministry regrets impunity of ex-officers in torture case

ROC Central News Agency

2011/05/25 16:33:49

By Emmanuelle Tzeng, Justin Su and Lilian Wu

Taipei, May 25 (CNA) The Ministry of National Defense (MND) said Wednesday that it regrets the decision by the Supreme Prosecutors Office to not prosecute nine military officers involved in the mishandling of a rape-murder case in 1996-97.

The military officers were involved in the torturing of Chiang Kuo-ching, a 20-year-old private in the Air Force. Chiang was accused of raping and murdering a five-year-old girl at the Air Force Command in Taipei in 1996, and was executed the following year.

The case only reopened last year after the Control Yuan, the nation's highest watchdog body, suspected torture was used to extract Chiang's confession.

The Special Investigation Division (SID) under the Supreme Prosecutors Office completed the investigation Tuesday and indicted another suspect for the case.

But the SID did not prosecute former Defense Minister Chen Chao-min and several others involving in the torture of Chiang, which included forcing him to constantly watch videotapes of the girl's mutilated body. The SID said the effective indictment period of the crime has passed.

Chen served as the chief commander of the Air Force Combat Command between 1995-1997. He was defense minister from 2008-2009.

Wang Tsai-lien, Chiang mother, expressed discontent toward the decision Tuesday, saying that she could not forgive Chen.

"I fully understand and respect Wang's discontent toward the results of SID's investigation. I want to express my sincere sympathy and apology to Chiang's family and the public, " MND spokesman Lo Shao-ho said.

"The MND regrets that the SID's ruling does not live up to the expectation of the Chiang family and the public because the effective indictment period for the involved military officers has passed, " Lo said.

But he also said that for those who received medals for cracking down on the case rapidly, the MND will work to revoke their merits and help Chiang's family solicit their rights in this matter.

Meanwhile, the legislative caucus of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) said Wednesday that Chen should apologize to the public for his mishandling of the case.

George Hsieh, a KMT whip, said that the MND should help Chiang's family get the maximum compensation of NT$30 million under the Law of Compensation for Wrongful Detentions and Executions.

KMT Legislator Ting Shou-chung said that he has proposed a legal revision to address the flaw of the case.

Under the Act on Discipline of Civil Servants, prosecutors only have a 10-year window from the last reported date of a crime to pursue a case. After the window expires, the alleged criminals go free.

Ting said that Chen and other military officers will not be punished because the indictment period has passed. In terms of administrative responsibility, the period for pursuing the case in 10 years has also expired.

Ting has therefore proposed to change the starting point of the 10-year statute of limitations from the time the crime is committed to the time the crime is detected. The proposed change is now being screened by the Legislative Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee.

Legislators from the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) called for a retrial of Chiang's case. It also called for the government to revoke Chen's retirement pension as well as the pensions of related military officers.

DPP Legislator Gao Jyh-peng questioned the KMT's call for Chen to burn incense for Chiang and issue an apology as only an act of "damage control."

He called for the government to take the initiative to help Chiang's family get compensation, and said Chen should return his handsome pension after committing such a crime.



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