By Joseph Yeh, The China Post
Former Air Force serviceman Hsu Jung-chou (許榮洲) was given an 18-year jail term by the Taipei District Court yesterday for the rape and murder of a 5-year-old girl in 1996. The harsh sentence was handed to Hsu after a new investigation into the brutal case over 20 years ago which resulted in the wrongful execution of his Air Force colleague Chiang Kuo-ching (江國慶) in 1997. Hsu can still appeal the ruling, the court added. In response to the sentence, Hsu’s lawyer Chen Yi-hsuan (陳益軒) said he was extremely shocked and pledged that he will appeal the case on behalf of his client.
Hsu, who is currently in detention, did not attend the session yesterday. None of his family members were at the court either. Hsu was arrested in January this year. The charges were filed against Hsu after investigators discovered that Hsu’s DNA and palm print matched those left at the scene of the crime, according to prosecutors.
Hsu is also believed to be involved in two other cases involving the rape and murder of school girls, they said. Hsu’s DNA, Palm Print Found at Crime Scene According to the indictment, Hsu, who was then serving at Air Force Command in Taipei, saw the 5-year-old victim, surnamed Hsieh, watching television alone at a restaurant located at the command center on Sept. 12, 1996. He later grabbed the little girl and took her a bathroom where he assaulted and raped her. Hsieh tried to call for help but Hsu clamped his hand over her mouth, ultimately causing the girl to die from suffocation. After realizing the girl was dead, the serviceman threw her body out of the bathroom window. Trying to hide the crime, he covered Hsieh’s body with wooden bars and tree leaves.
During the process, Hsu left his palm print near the bathroom window, according to the indictment. Prosecutors said DNA tests confirmed the bloody palm prints at the scene of the crime were left by Hsu. His own confession also confirmed that he, and not Chiang, was responsible for the murder. Prosecutors also determined that the conviction of Chiang in 1997 was the result of a coerced confession.
The Military Supreme Court Prosecutors Office filed an extraordinary appeal with the Supreme Court in May 2010 to reopen the case, following findings by the government watchdog, the Control Yuan, that Chiang was tortured by military investigators who were under pressure to solve the case. Hsu was indicated on homicide charges in May this year after prosecutors completed a new investigation into the case.
Prosecutors were originally seeking a 20-year jail term for Hsu, who was described in the indictment as a pedophile in need of long-term treatment. In October, a record-high NT$103 million was given to the family of Chiang as compensation for the wrongful execution 14 years ago.