TAIWAN: DEATH SENTENCE HANDED OUT IN 23-YEAR-OLD MURDER CASE
May 12, 2011: at the 12th retrial result announcement for the 1987 kidnap-murder case of nine-year-old Lu Cheng, Chiou Ho-shun was again sentenced to death and lifelong deprivation of civil rights. For the past 23 years, the High Court has convicted Chiou and his fellow defendants several times, while the Supreme Court would order a retrial, citing flaws in the case repeatedly.
The case, in administrative limbo because of the Supreme Courtâs refusal to confirm the sentence, has long drawn national attention, with judicial reform advocates saying there are numerous flaws in the evidence and confessions, elicited through torture.
The nine-year-old disappeared on December 21, 1987. The Lu family received a ransom note for NT$5 million and made a NT$1 million payment nine days later, but Lu was never released.
The following year, police arrested three juveniles, who quickly confessed to the kidnapping and Chiou, in detention for another case at the time, was implicated as head of the criminal ring.
In total, 12 suspects were charged â with police obtaining confessions from all but one of them.
As more details surfaced, however, discrepancies emerged in their accounts. Over the years, charges against most of the suspects were dismissed.
Lawyers for the defendants have maintained that the case is riddled with problems, including a lack of forensic found and the prosecution has based its case solely on confessions.
However, two prosecutors and 10 police officers involved in the case were impeached by the Control Yuan more than a decade ago for using violence and threats to obtain quick confessions, although the confessions were still accepted as evidence.
Chiou's lawyer has decided to appeal to the Supreme Court after the result of the 12th retrial was announced, and if the Supreme Court remands the case yet again, this judicial ping-pong would create a record in the Taiwanese legal history that prolong the indefinite detentions of Chiou.
The latest decision was flawed, said Lin Feng-jeng, executive director of the Judicial Reform Foundation, because the High Court has not yet resolved the inconsistencies that led the Supreme Court to call for retrials. (Sources: Taipeitimes.com, 12/05/2011)