Notice of Press Conference “The Death Sentence? Innocence? Or something else…”
“The Death Sentence? Innocence? Or something else…”
Notice of Press Conference
In 1987, defendants including Chiu Ho-Shun, were arrested for the death of a kidnapped Hsin-Chu school boy, Lu Cheng. They were sentenced to the death penalty and were barred from serving as public employees for life. In 1994, the then Member of the Control Yuan, Ms Wang Ching-Feng, uncovered evidence used by the police in prosecuting Chiu Ho-Shun, and this brought new lights on the case.
Until now, the defendant Chiu Ho-Shun had been held in custody for 20 years, and this is also the oldest undecided criminal case in Taiwan’s history. The High Court had repeatedly sentenced Chiu Ho-Shun to death 10 times, all of which were revoked by the Supreme Court.
Lawyers from the Taipei and Banciao branch offices of the Legal Aid Foundation handled the representation of the latest re-trial. With the unwavering determination of these lawyers, it took the Court 3 years to review the investigation CDs and records, and concluded that the defendants had been tortured during investigations. Other evidence favorable to the defendant had also been uncovered, which are able to proof that it was impossible for the defendants to commit the crime.
The Court will decide this case on April 13th , 2009, at 11 am. Will the new judgment this time round find the defendants innocent? Or will they be sentenced to death once more?
(The international media is welcome to attend the press conference. Interpreters are available at the press conference.)
Time of Announcement: April 13th , 2009, 11am.
Place of Announcement: Taiwan High Court, Criminal Division Building, Court Room No. 3 (Address: No. 127, Bo-ai Rd., Zhongzheng Dist., Taipei City)
On December 21st, 1987, the ten-year-old Hsin-Chu Tung-Men Primary School student, Lu Cheng, disappeared after class. The Lu family soon received phone calls from kidnappers requesting ramson in exchange for the return of their son. However, their son never returned. This kidnap case shocked the Taiwan society at the time. The Lu family offered a high reward through the media, and the Hsinchu City Police Bureau commenced full search of the boy.
More than 9 months after the incident, the Taipei Criminal Police Corps received secrete reports and arrested 12 defendants including Chiu Ho-Shun, and announced that the case was solved. In addition to the Lu Cheng case, Chiu Ho-Shun and others were also charged for the murder of a Miao Li insurance agent, Ke Hung Yu-Lan. The Hsin-Chu DPP joined the two cases, so that they were heard in one proceeding.
The Prosecutors have not been able to abduce direct proof for their allegations, which were based on Chiu Ho-Shun and other defendants’ confessions. Chiu Ho-Shun continued to assert miscarriage of justice, alleging that their confessions were forced from them by torture. The then Member of the Control Yuan, Ms Wang Ching-Feng, investigated the case, and found the defendants’ voices after going through more than 100 tapes. A body which was suspected of being Lu Cheng’s was also found, but it was treated in haste by the prosecutors and was eventually lost. In 1994, the Control Yuan passed a resolution to impeach police officers involved in the Lu Cheng case, and a number of police received criminal punishment.
Although there was evidence of torture, direct proof was not available. The police interrogated the defendants for over 10 days, and evidence of torture was found in a small section of the tape. All of the defendants were found guilty of the crime on the basis of these tapes, while Chiu Ho-Shun received the death penalty.
In 2003, police admitted that another defendant, Hu Kuan Pao, who was charged with serious criminal offences and kidnap, had confessed before being executed. At that time, the Taipei Criminal Police Corps had already announced that Lu Cheng’s case was solved, and to avoid unnecessary complications to this announcement, the police deliberately concealed this information and did not re-open investigations. Chiu Ho-Shun believed that Hu Kuan Pao was the murderer in the Lu Cheng case.
This is the oldest undecided custody (20 years) in Taiwan’s history. Four defendants including Chiu Ho-Shun, have yet to receive the final judgment. Another 8 co-offenders have been sentenced to 10 to 16 years of imprisonment. Insisting that they are innocent, they abandoned the right of appeal because of the excruciating length of the litigation process.
In the past 22 years, the High Court sentenced Chiu Ho-Shun to the death penalty 10 times, all of which were revoked by the Supreme Court upon appeal. The latest re-trial was represented by the Taipei and Banciao branch offices of the Legal Aid Foundation - staff lawyers applied to the court to review investigation records, to confirm that defendants had been tortured and made their confessions under torture, and that there were favourable evidence to prove that the defendants did not commit the crime.
The 3-year review found the following unsolved points:
1. Chiu Ho-Shun’s alibi was never acknowledged: Lu Cheng was kidnapped in Hsin-Chu City at around 6pm, but Chiu Ho-Shun and his companions did not leave Miao-Li until 7:40 pm.
2. Fingerprints did not belong to the defendants: none of the eight fingerprints that were found belonged to the defendants.
3. Proof found did not belong to the defendants: in the place where Ke Hung Yu-Lan’s body was found, the male underwear, knife and syringe did not belong to the defendants.
4. Serious flaws in police investigation process and method: some of the police officers had been punished for obtaining confessions from the defendants by means of torture. The defendants confessed while in custody and under relentless interrogations.
Human rights groups in Taiwan are of the opinion that the Court’s refusal to exclude all of the defendants’ police statements have contravened the provision of Article 156 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, “confession of an accused not extracted by violence, threat, inducement, fraud, exhausting interrogation, unlawful detention or other improper means and consistent with facts may be admitted as evidence”. Human rights groups in Taiwan now appeal to the international community, at the same time await the government’s solutions to Lu Cheng’s case.