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Truth commission needed for KMT state murder cases
Taiwan News
2009-07-30 12:38 AM
Tuesday`s decision by the Taiwan High Prosecutors Office not to indict five former officials of the notorious Taiwan Garrison Command for the July 1981 murder of Carnegie - Mellon professor Chen Wen-cheng confirms the need for a legally - mandated special truth commission with the authority and determination to break down institutional, bureaucratic and political barriers to find the truth of numerous cases of state or political murder in the four decades of martial law rule of the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang).

In March, President Ma Ying-jeou expressed his openness to new investigations into the unsolved murders of the mother and two of three daughters of jailed dissident Taiwan Provincial Assemblyman (and later Democratic Progressive Party chairman) Lin I-hsiung on February 28, 1980 and the mysterious death of 31-year-old Chen Wen-cheng, a overseas activist in Taiwan`s democratic movement on a visit to his family, who was found dead in the morning of July 3 on the National Taiwan University campus after being interrogated by agents of the TGC, then the KMT regime`s most feared secret police agency.

Despite declarations of intent to expose the truth, the former DPP government of ex-president Chen Shui-bian was unable to make significant progress on solving these most painfully recalled cases of violence against democratic movement activists, in part due to lack of cooperation by the Ministry of National Defence, which took over the TGC files after it was disbanded in August 1992, the National Security Bureau, the Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau and the KMT itself.

Hence, Ma`s decision opened a ray of hope which was acted on by Justice Minister Wang Ching-feng, who ordered a new probe conducted by THPO prosecutors with assistance from the Taipei District Prosecutors Office, the Criminal Investigation Bureau, the MJIB, the Taipei City Police and other agencies.

Unfortunately, Tuesday`s report by the THPO and its decision not to indict former TGC commander Wang Ching-hsu and four other lower ranking TGC officers after a cursory four-month ``investigation`` showed only that prosecutors are unable or unwilling to transcend the assumptions and political restrictions of the probes conducted into these cases under KMT martial law.

For example, the probe into the Lin Family murders, mainly reviewed of forensic evidence, continued to revolve around martial law era claims of involvement by ``international terrorists`` and made no mention whatsoever of suspicions that Lin`s mother may have been killed by KMT government agents in retaliation for telling offshore human rights organizations that her son had been brutally tortured in a TGC detention center.

Moreover, despite ``finding`` tape recordings of monitored telephone conversations held by the National Security Bureau, prosecutors amazingly maintained that ``there is no evidence`` that Lin`s home was not constantly monitored by the TGC and thus that the murderer should have been easily identified or his actions even prevented.

Similarly, the report on the Chen Wen-cheneg case used language that indicated that the investigating prosecutors probed the case from the standpoint of the TGC instead of from the standpoint of a likely murder victim.

For example, the THPO report described Chen as ``evasive`` during his first interrogation by TGC agents in the Exit and Entry Bureau while applying for an exit visa on June 30, 1981 and thereby justified the TGC commander`s order for Chen to be grilled in TGC Peace Preservation Section July 2.

Moreover, despite the discovery of a transcript of clearly antagonistic interrogation and the TGC`s own notorious track record, the THPO report claimed that ``there is no evidence that Chen Wen-cheng was tortured or mistreated before his death.``

Based largely on this presumption, the THPO report justified its decision not to indict the former TGC officers based on its position that ``since there is no positive (concrete) evidence to support the deduction that he was murdered or committed suicide, the greater possibility that he accidentally fell cannot be excluded.``

Political will needed

It is evident from the THPO report that prosecutors were unwilling or unable to site these murder investigations into their highly - charged political context and never seriously considered the possibility that agents for the KMT secret police (including the TGC, the MJIB and the NSB) could lie.

This slovenly report demonstrates that what is required is political will.

If Ma truly is committed to help the Taiwan people can find the truth of these cases, he should use his position as president and KMT chairman to press all government agencies, including the MND, the MJIB, the NSB and his own party`s archives to submit all of their files related to any political cases to the National Archives.

Moreover, the president and KMT chairman should press his own party`s lawmakers to work with opposition parties, human rights organizations, judicial reform groups and the relatives of victims to establish a special investigative commission under the Legislative Yuan with the legal mandate to conduct a comprehensive political and legal probe into the Lin and Chen murders and other unsolved martial law cases.

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