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Taiwan court acquits executed soldier in rape case

afp.gifAFP – 31 mins ago


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A Taiwanese soldier who was executed 14 years ago for the rape and murder of a young girl was posthumously acquitted in a military court Tuesday, in a case that has captivated the country.


In an extremely rare move, the court cleared Chiang Kuo-ching because his confession was found not to be "voluntary" and "true", and the evidence used to convict him was insufficient, the defence ministry said.


"The ministry will assist the Chiang family in seeking compensation... and will ensure that no such regrettable case will occur again," it said in a statement.


Chiang, an air force serviceman, was convicted in 1996 by a military court of raping and murdering a five-year-old girl at an air force base in Taipei, and was executed the following year aged 21.


The case has provoked intense criticism of the judiciary and prompted President Ma Ying-jeou to apologise to Chiang's family.


In a letter home, Chiang had insisted he was innocent and had been coerced into confessing by a group of air force intelligence officers.


Chiang's father, who died last year, had repeatedly appealed to various government agencies to clear his son's name, which eventually led to the prosecution reopening the case last year.


At the time, the details of the case shocked Taiwan due to the brutality of the murder, with the autopsy revealing extensive damage to the child's reproductive organs and intestines.


The Taipei district prosecutors' office in May indicted ex-serviceman Hsu Rong-chou, who has been jailed twice for previous rape convictions, for the girl's murder.


According to the indictment, Hsu confessed to sexually assaulting the girl and claimed to have an accomplice who killed her, although he later admitted to inventing the story about the accomplice.


Prosecutors are seeking a 20-year jail term for Hsu as he "partially confessed" and has been found to be "slightly mentally inefficient", the indictment said.


Civilian prosecutors handled the case as the suspect was discharged from the air force in 2001.



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