Taiwan quashes convictions in 21-year-old murder caseAgence France-Presse
TAIPEI–Taiwan’s High Court on Friday quashed the convictions of three men sentenced to death over the murder of a couple 21 years ago, bringing an end to one of the island’s most controversial cases.
“The court finds the three defendants not guilty as prosecutors failed to prove that they actually took part in the crime,” it said in a statement, adding that the verdict was final.
“I hope we can all reflect on this unfortunate case to make our judicial system better,” one of the men, Su Chien-ho, told reporters outside the court.
Their legal plight began after they were implicated by a soldier who confessed in 1991 to killing the couple and was executed the following year after a trial by a military tribunal.
He had claimed the men — Su, Liu Bin-lang and Chuang Lin-hsun — were his accomplices.
The trio, who claimed they were tortured into making confessions, were first sentenced to death in 1992 and had since faced a series of trials and retrials in one of Taiwan’s most disputed and lengthy cases.
In 2007, the court sentenced the trio to death, reversing an earlier verdict that freed them after more than a decade on death row.
Although they were not reimprisoned, pending an appeal, the decision provoked an outcry from rights groups.
After their convictions were quashed Friday, the Taiwan Association for Human Rights said the case “shows that judges are not gods and wrong verdicts are terrible but yet inevitable.
“We urge the judiciary to bravely face and deal with their mistakes.”
Like many Asian countries, Taiwan maintains the death penalty, reserving it for serious crimes including aggravated murder, kidnapping and robbery.
Some human rights groups have seized on the case to call on the government to abolish capital punishment.