When Will the Minister of Justice Hear the Voice of the Innocent? ~No More the Tragedy of the Du Brothers


Press Release
May 6, 2014

When Will the Minister of Justice Hear the Voice of the Innocent?
No More the Tragedy of the Du Brothers

The Ministry of Justice executed five death row inmates Deng Guo-liang, Liu Yen-guo, the brothers Du Ming-lang and Du Ming-xiong, and Dai Wen-qing on April 29. Minister of Justice Luo Ying-shay claimed that she was comfortable with the execution. However, civil groups and scholars considered the execution to be highly controversial on timing and motivation. The execution of Liu Yen-kuo raised the question of procedural justice violations. Moreover, the execution of the Du brothers also caused overwhelming criticisms due to its controversies and high possibilities of executing the innocent people.

On the seventh day of the execution, the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty (TAEDP), Amnesty International Taiwan Section Tainan Group, the Taiwan Association for Innocence, the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, the Judicial Reform Foundation, the Humanistic Education Foundation, the National Cheng Kong University 02 Club and citizens came to the Tainan Detention Center to light candles for the Du brothers and tied yellow ribbons, expressing their determination in pursuing the truth and proving the Du brothers’ innocence.

The Executive Director of the TAEDP Lin Hsin-yi said they will appeal to the Control Yuan and request to impeach Minister Luo Ying-shay and the government officials who did not fulfill their duty. Meanwhile, the TAEDP refuses the possible wrongful conviction to be buried along with the death of the Du brothers whose case  the TAEDP decides investigate into. These groups pointed out that among the inmates on the death row, many cases are problematic. They further call on Minister Luo to face the mistakes she made with courage and to prevent the tragedy of the Du brothers from happening again. Lin Hsin-yi quoted a former death row inmate from the United States, Freddie Lee Pitts, “You can release an innocent man from prison, but you can't release him from the grave.”

The defender of the Du brothers, also the former chair of Tainan Bar Association, Attorney Chang Wen-jia said, the court considered there were no evidence to prove the defedants committed robbery and homicide. At the first instance, the Du brothers and their deceased father were sentenced not guilty. Yet, the High Court and the Supreme Court were not able to investigate further and sentenced them to death. The testimony provided by the witnesses is full of contradictions but it was adopted by the High Court and the Supreme Court. Therefore the court ruled the defandants guilty. The truth is not yet clear. Attorney Chang Wen-jia once requested an extraordinary appeal to the Prosecutor Gerneral on behalf of the Du brothers. He also provided evidence to appeal to Minister Luo. Unfortunately, the Minister did not give enough time for the attorney and the civil groups to find out about the truth and rescue the Du brothers before she signed the execution warrants. It showed that the Minister does not care for lives from rushing through the execution.

Law Professor Lee Jia-wen from National Cheng Kong University said, all relevent evidence were found in China and the evidence was not transferred from the Chinese  Bureau of Public Security to the Judicial Institutions in Taiwan. Only photos and examination reports were sent to Taiwan. In other words, “none of the judges in Taiwan have seen the evidence in person”. The defendants and the attorney did not have any oppurtunity to re-examine the evidence. In addition, the key witness provided contradicting testimonies. When the defendants requested witnesses to be called to the Taiwanese court for cross-examination, the Chinese government said they “could not locate this person.” Professor Lee questioned ,“How is it possible that the Chinese government has difficulties locating a person if it needs to? ” The Chinese police were able to find the witness for the testimony, but they were not willing to cooperate with Taiwan and summon the witness to the court in Taiwan. Apparently the case is problematic. The courts in Taiwan adopted the examination reports done by the Chinese Public Security Bureau easily, showing that the judicial system does not value lives at all.

Lu Ping, family of Lu Cheng, who was wrongfully executed, also came to the press conference. She said that her brother was a victim of state murder committed. She emphasized that the judicial system must learn its lesson and stop destroying more families by wrongful executions. Lu Ping admires the dicision to launch an investigation on the executions took place last week by the Control Yuan Commissoner Li Fu-dian. But meanwhile she asked the Control Yuan to investigate all the problematic executions in the past, including her brother Lu Cheng’s case in 2000. The family also needs to know the truth.

Attorney Tu Hsin-cheng, a pro bono lawyer of another inmate on the death row in Tainan Detention Center, Hsieh Chih-hung, also attended the press conference. He is concerned that Hsieh might become the next Du brothers. Attorney Tu gave the examples of Jiang Kuo-ching and the Hsichih Trio, who were wrongfully convicted. He considered that “offense concluded by limited evidence while heavily relying on witnesses’ testimonies and free evaluation of evidence through inner conviction of the judges” is the common feature of wrongful convictions of death panelty, including the Du brothers and Hsieh Chih-hung’s case. (See attachement 2 for Hsieh’s case). Attorney Tu said, the society can never accpet innocent people to be executed. Therefore Minister Luo must take the wrongful conviction of deth penlaty cases including Hsieh Chih-hung, Chiu Ho-shun, and Cheng Hsing-tze very seriously.

Chao Ching-hua, AI Tainan Group member, said, visiting Hsieh was the first time meeting an inmate on the death row. Before she visited Hsieh, she studied on Hsieh’s case. Chao realized that during the third police interrigation, Hsieh denied participating in all the criminal offenses when he was accompanied by his lawyer. Hsieh further said that the first interrogation was provided under torture. But somehow, the recordings from the first interrogation happened to be missing and making it impossible to show what really happened. None of the courts adopted Hsieh’s story about the torture. As an ordinary citizen, she cannot understand why the courts would rule without scientific evidence. And why wouldn’t the courts apply the principle of “innocence until proven guilty”? Amnesty International Taiwan Tainan Group will continue to pay attention to Hsieh’s case and support Hsieh and his family.

Besides the representatives from relevent groups, many supporters also tied yellow ribbons onto the gate of Tainan Detention Center and lighted candles. They sat peacefully in memory of the Du brothers and they hoped that the support from outside can be passed through the walls into the Tainan Detention Center.

more information: http://www.taedp.org.tw/en/story/2670