Retired Policeman Says Taiwan Authorities Tortured Murder Suspect into Confessing

Retired Policeman Says Taiwan Authorities Tortured Murder Suspect into Confessing
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What you need to know

This policeman talked to Qiu before, asking him why he confessed to the crime. Qiu said it was because the police tortured him, so he had to plead guilty first and then the court would grant him justice in the trial afterwards. However, the court never allowed him to reverse his confession.

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Four years ago, Qiu He-shun was sentenced to death after being accused of kidnapping and killing a boy in 1987.

Due to many questionable points and police torture involved in the case, the Judicial Reform Foundation has made three extraordinary appeals for Qiu and both calls for retrials were rejected. On June 9, the foundation used “two policemen heard the wailing of Qiu being tortured" as a piece of new evidence to issue a retrial for Qiu for the third time, but the Taiwan High Court rejected it once again on June 22.

Qiu’s case is the criminal case with the longest period of custody in Taiwan’s judicial history. (Nearly 23 years in custody, starting from being put in custody in September of 1988 to affirming the conviction at the end of July, 2011) This is very rare, even internationally.

On September 9, Next Magazine published an interview with a retired policeman, who revealed what he had witnessed regarding Qiu’s case when he was still on the job. He believes that Qiu is innocent.

The policeman says that when he first joined the police, his mother warned him to keep a good reputation and to not mess around. Keeping these words in mind, he refused the temptations that came along with being a policeman.

But there is one thing that troubles him all the time, which is Qiu’s case. He says that when his unit was sent to assist the case, they could not find the body and the weapon for a long time, but the case was still announced as solved. He often heard Qiu wailing from being tortured in the next room.

This policeman talked to Qiu before, asking him why he confessed to the crime. Qiu said it was because the police tortured him, so he had to plead guilty first and then the court would grant him justice in the trial afterwards. However, the court never allowed him to reverse his confession.

The policeman says, everybody knew that Qiu was not the murderer, but in fear of getting in the way of superiors, they were all reluctant to speak up. He did not expect that Qiu would be put in custody for 23 years and sentenced to death. Now that he is retired, he doesn’t want to stay silent anymore, so he called the Judicial Reform Foundation. However, the judge was not willing to summon him to court.

Whenever there’s an execution being conducted, the policeman will carefully read the list and only feel relieved after he sees that Qiu’s name is not on the list.

Having seen the case of Xu Zi-Qiang, who was also in custody for 20 years, absolved after nine retrials recently, the policeman says, “I wonder if there is still hope (for Qiu)?"

On June 22, the High Court rejected the Judicial Reform Foundation’s issue of retrial. The Foundation issued a statement saying that two retired police officers made it clear that in the process of co-investigation with the Criminal Investigation Division of Taipei City Police Department, they repeatedly heard the screams and sounds of someone being hit. Therefore, the investigation should reopen for a retrial procedure.

The Judicial Reform Foundation also criticizes, “All the retrials are presented with new evidence to alter the original investigation. The main reason for the High Court’s rejection is the police torture part has been investigated already, so there’s no need for re-investigation. This is logically ridiculous."

Huang Wei-ting, executive secretary of the Judicial Reform Foundation, issued an article on Apple Daily, saying that Qiu’s case took place at the end of the martial law, the era of the hidden totalitarianism extorting confessions by torturing. It’s indeed proof of how totalitarianism still has huge influences on the judicial system. This case is the key to see if social justice and the credibility of justice can be carried out.

He further states that this case is an examination to our judicial system to see if they fully understand their responsibility since they have the final say. The justice’s decision can hugely influence one’s life. Whether the government can meet with the people’s expectations, balance public opinions and realize judicial justice, will impact the government’s determination to implement policies regarding transitional justice.

Translated by Vic and June
Edited by Olivia Yang

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