20 May 2020 :
The High Court’s Tainan branch on 15 May 2020 overturned a death sentence on rape and murder charges against Hsieh Chih-hung based on new findings from the Taiwan High Prosecutors’ Office after it restarted the investigation.
Hsieh was accused of being an accomplice to Kuo Chun-wei in the murder of a woman surnamed Chen, 18, and a man surnamed Chang, 68, on 24 June 2000.
After first being found guilty in October 2001, Hsieh and Kuo had their verdicts and death sentences upheld in seven subsequent retrials, during which Hsieh maintained his innocence and said that his confession resulted from torture.
In September 2018, the Taiwan High Prosecutors’ Office, citing new evidence that proved Hsieh’s innocence, filed for a retrial.
The High Court on 14 March last year accepted the petition and ordered Hsieh’s sentence to be temporarily suspended.The court then granted a request to release Hsieh from the Tainan Detention Center, where he had been held since 2001, and began to hear the new case presented by prosecutors, before delivering the verdict on 15 May.
The decision stated that because the police had not recorded either of Hsieh’s interrogation sessions and could provide little to no corroborating material, the interrogation was in breach of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Hsieh’s confession could therefore not be used as evidence, it said.
Kuo had accused Hsieh of being his accomplice and passed polygraph testing, but the court said that the testing should only point to Kuo’s credibility and not be considered proof of it.
Given that Kuo was diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder, the court dismissed the polygraph results.
A coroner’s examination of the victims’ bodies found wounds of various depths and stated that it was possible that there might have been more than one perpetrator, but it is reasonable that Kuo committed both murders, the court said.
The collegiate bench convened to preside over the case on 15 May cited these reasons as grounds for finding Hsieh innocent.