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Control Yuan investigation into T. Hsu case: four extraordinary appeals, innocent at last

  • PostDate:2020-03-24

T. Hsu was accused of the kidnap for ransom and murder of a real estate broker in 1995. Perpetrator C. Huang was arrested and testified against three alleged accomplices, Y. Chen, M. Huang and T. Hsu.  M. Huang fled the country shortly after the crime and was later assassinated in Thailand; the other three accused were sentenced to death in 2000 after the case was remanded by the Supreme Court four times. However, there was no physical evidence of Hsu’s involvement and the sole basis of Hsu’s conviction was the confessions of the other two accused, a violation against the principle of a fair trial and the fundamental rights of the accused.

On May 29th, 2000, the Control Yuan (CY) launched an investigation into Hsu’s death penalty conviction regarding the lack of other corroborative evidence and being based solely on the testimony of alleged co-offenders, raising seven procedural errors:

  1. The probative value of C. Huang’s and Y. Chen’s confessions remained uncertain.
  2. The court concluded Hsu was involved in the case because he rented a blue car (the presumed getaway vehicle) on the afternoon of Sept. 21st, 1995. The decision was in contravention of the rules of experience and logic.
  3. The court did not investigate other evidence before it ruled Hsu’s alibi for Sept. 1st, 1995, (the day the kidnapping took place,) inadmissible. The decision was in contravention of the rules of evidence.
  4. The court did not call upon the witness in favor of Hsu as the accused had requested, neither did the court investigate evidence critical to the interests of the accused before the trial.
  5. The court presumed the kidnap for ransom was a premediated crime and that C. Huang had made contacts and assigned work accordingly. The presumption was in contravention of the rules of experience and logic. The court also failed to investigate the existing and established evidence before the trial.
  6. The court did not look into the defense in favor of Y. Chen, nor was any reason for this specified in the written verdict.
  7. The Ministry of Justice should have requested its prosecutors to investigate the accused’s allegations of forced confession to uncover the truth and protect fundamental rights.
In addition, the CY launched two other investigations on July 2nd, 2012, and Oct. 21st, 2015. The first investigated the point that though Hsu retained a defense attorney, a public attorney was illegally assigned, advising Hsu to plead guilty before the verbal argument. The second was in relation to forensic science failures leading to miscarriages of justice in cases such as Hsu’s.

The CY utilized its supervisory powers and advised the Prosecutor-General of the Supreme Prosecutors Office to take the CY’s investigation report into consideration. The Prosecutor-General filed four motions for extraordinary appeals, and on Oct. 13th, 2016, the Supreme Court overruled the Supreme Prosecutors Office’s appeal and ruled Hsu not guilty, finally overturning Hsu’s guilty verdict.