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Friday, December 11, 2009

Death because the judge decided so?!

I side track little from my usual topic of Taiwan’s politics for this post today because I am always interested in promoting justice. I am going to bring this case to the attention of my readers all over the world so you can get a glimpse of Taiwan’s judicial system. And I hope this post will bring about some reforms.

Two days ago, the Taipei Times reported the case of a defendant sentenced to death for the eighth time.

As this dragging case is not the only one since the Amnesty International’s Taiwan watch list included another case in which a defendant had been retained for 21 years and was awaiting for the 11th retrial, although I didn’t follow-up on this AI case’s latest development, nevertheless, it showed another example of the flawed system.

For the 1st case I mentioned above, the Taipei Times reported:
Hsu Tsu-chiang’s lawyers say his conviction was based solely on the confessions of two codefendants, one of whom recanted the testimony.

Prosecutors say the evidence against Hsu is solid, citing the fact that one of the suspects (who left the country and was never caught) stayed at Hsu’s home around the time of the crime and that a car rented by him was one of several cars used for the crime.

Defense lawyers dismiss these arguments as circumstantial and add that all the other cars used for the crime were stolen, and it was therefore extremely doubtful that the perpetrators would have been careless enough to rent one of the cars under one of their own names. Hsu was tricked into renting a car for his “friends,” who didn’t have one and said they needed it for the day, his lawyers say.

The Control Yuan agreed that prosecutors’ arguments were “illogical.” It also said prosecutors ignored testimony indicating that Hsu was not at the scene of the crime.

Before the judgment was announced, as Chen waited in the hallway for guards to arrive with her son from Taipei Detention Center, she said Hsu no longer believed he would ever be free.

“They only have the confessions to go on,” she told the Taipei Times. “How can that be justice?”
The following is my observations and comments from reading the news:

All I can conclude from reading the news is that the defendant did some favor for a friend (or tricked by a "friend") by renting a car and letting his friend stay at his home. Whether the defendant knew or not about what his friend did at the time he provided the two favors should not convict him to death. Is the defendant’s DNA sample found at the crime scene? Since there is testimony that the defendant was not at the scene of the crime, why did the judge choose to ignore this testimony but rely his decision solely on the confession of one of the two codefendants?

Why don’t Taiwan’s law enforcement officers attempt to seek foreign assistance to trace and catch this suspect that had left the country, and why should a friend be sentenced to death because the police didn’t catch the suspect in time and let him escaped out of the country?

Why does it depend on the decision or perhaps the mood of a judge that day?

Why doesn’t Taiwan’s justice system have the option of trial by jury to decide the guilty or non-guilty verdict of a defendant (I mean isn’t it time to introduce the jury trial system in Taiwan and let the criminal defendant choose between a bench trial or a jury trial?)

My knowledge of law is restricted to taxation in the past and blank in criminal, and I am not a trained lawyer, but I do hope this post will bring about some judicial reforms in Taiwan so that human dignity is upheld.

1 comment:

Ben Goren said...

There are many cases like this one too. Hsichi Trio were convicted on similarly flimsy evidence of the brother (who was accomplice) to the most likely murderer (who was tried and executed within months of the crime). I agree with you that its time for trial by jury in Taiwan, the only problem possibly being the very judgmental and assumptive attitudes of many people thus perhaps making it easier for a prosecutor to appeal on emotional grounds and harder for the defense to defend on technical grounds.

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