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Control Yuan investigation into Chiang Kuo-Ching case: posthumous exoneration

  • PostDate:2020-03-24

Chiang Kuo-Ching, an airman with the Air Force Combatant Command, was sentenced to death for rape and murder by a military court and was executed on Aug. 13th, 1997. Chiang’s father filed a complaint with the Control Yuan (CY) in 1996 claiming his son had been tortured during questioning and that evidence had been illegally obtained. The CY launched an investigation in 1998, and through the joint efforts of investigators and the Members of the second, third and fourth CY, corrective measures against the Ministry of National Defense were proposed in May 2010 after 12 years of investigation.

The investigation found that then-Commander of the Air Force Combatant Command Chen Chao-min did unlawfully instruct the Department of Counterintelligence to investigate the case. The Department unlawfully detained Chiang, employing illegal practices such as exhausting and suggestive interrogation, in contravention of Chiang’s rights as well as the procedure prescribed by law.

In addition, the original verdict used irrelevant evidence as the basis of conviction, along with contaminated evidence—which should be inadmissible—as the only physical and corroborative evidence. The verdict was apparently reached against the procedure prescribed by law. The CY requested access to the Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau’s appraisal report, which was not sent to the military court, and found that the pubic hair collected from the back of the victim’s right thigh was not a DNA match for Chiang, yet no further investigation was conducted for the original trial. More evidence was also discovered and unexamined at the investigation stage, despite being significant enough to reach a different verdict. With this new evidence brought to light, the requirements for a retrial were fulfilled.

Chiang’s case was investigated by the Air Force Combatant Command, a non-judicial organ. Furthermore, the Department of Counterintelligence was suspected of extracting Chiang’s confession through torture for the sake of a quick end to the investigation, leading to his wrongful execution. As a result of these findings, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) publicly apologized to Chiang’s family, and former President Ma Ying-jeou also personally visited the family to apologize on behalf of the nation on Feb. 1st, 2011.

In July 2011, the MND gave the retired generals involved in Chiang’s case—then-Air Force Commander-in-Chief Huang Hsien-jung, then-Combat Commander Chen Chao-min, and then-Political Warfare Director Li Tien-yu—admonitions or demerits, as well as giving Counter-intelligence Colonel Ko Chung-ching, Counterintelligence Major Teng Chun-huan, and the late Security Officer Li Chih-jen two major demerits. The Military Northern District Court, MND, also ruled on Oct. 27th, 2011 that Chiang’s family would receive approximately NT$103 million in compensation pursuant to the Law of Compensation for Wrongful Detention and Execution, and that the MND could recover compensation from the military officers involved in this miscarriage of justice.

The Control Yuan believes that judicial prestige is built upon the realization of judicial justice, while judicial justice is built upon necessary legal procedures; that is, the rule of law is the underlying principle for the truth-seeking process. The goal is that no innocent man will be wrongfully indicted and that all guilty men will be rightfully punished. By following legal procedures and completing the litigation process, the guilty will be punished, the innocent will be released, and peace and order will be restored.