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18 military personnel indicted over Taiwanese conscript's death
Publication Date : 01-08-2013
Military prosecutors yesterday indicted a total of 18 personnel in Taiwan's military, including a one-star general, over the death of Army Corporal Hung Chung-chiu, who died from heatstroke while in disciplinary confinement in July.
The long indictment list includes Major General Shen Wei-chih, the former commander of the 542nd Brigade, where Hung served before his death.
Other military personnel indicted are Colonel Ho Chiang-chung, Major Hsu Shin-cheng, Sergeant-Major Chen Yi-jen, Sergeant Fan Tso-hsien and Captain Liu Yen-chun. All of them were Hung's superiors in the 542nd Brigade.
The above defendants were charged with offences against individual freedom and collectively levying punishments on Hung that were harsher than stipulated by law, announced chief military prosecutor Tsao Chin-sheng during a press conference in Taipei.
Meanwhile, the 269th Armored Brigade's Sergeant Chen Yi-hsun, who was responsible for monitoring Hung's disciplinary confinement, was charged with abuse of Hung during his confinement which ultimately led to his death, Tsao added.
The 11 others indicted are military personnel who were serving at the confinement facility at the 269th Brigade during Hung's time there.
They were charged with professional negligence of their duties resulting in Hung's death, Tsao noted.
Military prosecutors have recommended that the defendants be given harsh punishments for the offences.
Shen and another four defendants in the 542nd Brigade are facing a maximum 7 1/2 years in prison for their offences, while Chen Yi-hsun of the 269th Brigade could be given life imprisonment for his illicit actions, Tsao added.
Military prosecutors said Chen Yi-hsun, as a superintendent to Hung's disciplinary confinement, had abused his position in forcing the corporal to do strenuous exercise in hot weather for 70 minutes with little rest, even though Hung said several times that he was not feeling well.
The 24-year-old conscript died on July 4 of severe heatstroke and multiple organ failure, just two days before he was scheduled to be discharged.
Prosecutors, however, denied speculation that Hung was the victim of torture at the hands of a group, saying that Chen Yi-hsun is the only one responsible for abusing Hung because they could not find evidence to support the claim that Hung's superiors had asked Chen to torture Hung during his confinement.
Victim of personal vendetta
Military prosecutors found that Hung was the victim of a personal vendetta.
Hung had arguments with Hsu Shin-cheng and Fan Tso-hsien during their service in the 542nd Brigade.
Chen and Fan had wanted to “teach Hung a lesson”, and Hung being found in possession of a prohibited item — a cellphone capable of taking photographs — gave them the opportunity to settle their grudge, they said.
The two persuaded the brigade's deputy commander, Ho Chiang-chun, to have Hung thrown into the brig in less than half a day.
Under normal circumstances it takes several days to complete the disciplinary action procedure, which involves a physical and psychological evaluation of the offender by medical personnel.
Shen Wei-chih, who was then commander of the 542nd Brigade, later approved Hung's detention even though Hung had told him that his physical condition was unfit for serving punishment in a narrow cell.
Military prosecutors made public the indictment yesterday, only three days ahead of a second demonstration over the incident scheduled for August 3.
The first, held in Taipei on July 20, drew some 30,000 participants to vent anger over the military's poor handling of the case while demanding truth and justice over Hung's death.