Court overturns guilty verdicts in 2002 Taichung murder case

Two men convicted over the death of a teacher 19 years ago were exonerated Thursday after the Taiwan High Court overturned guilty verdicts handed out in 2012.

Wang Chi-cheng (???) and his friend Hung Shih-wei (???) were presented with flowers by their family and friends outside Taiwan High Court's Taichung Branch Court after they were declared not guilty of murdering after-school care center teacher Chen Chi-hsuan (???) in the early hours of Dec. 7, 2002.

The court said that the statements of the witnesses were inconsistent and could not prove that the two men had worked together to murder Chen.

In addition, Hung and Chen were not friends and did not have a motive, such as any profit to gain by killing Chen, the court said.

Speaking to media after the verdict, Wang thanked everyone who had fought hard for his innocence, while Hung thanked friends and family who had supported him over the years.

"Thank you for your support as it makes us more confident," Hung said.

Wang and Hung were sent to prison in 2012 after they were originally given prison sentences of 15 and 12.5 years, respectively, for their roles in Chen's death.

It was thought that Wang, who was Chen's boyfriend at the time, had lifted her over the railings of Taichung's Houfeng Bridge and let go of her hand, causing her to fall to her death.

The prosecution argued that Chen had wanted to break up with Wang, and that Hung had helped Wang lift Chen over the railings.

While both men began serving prison sentences in 2012, they were released and had their sentences temporarily suspended in 2018 -- the same year the Supreme Court ordered a retrial.

The case was then sent to the Taiwan High Court's Taichung Branch Court for a new trial.

In 2019, the Taiwan High Court's Taichung Branch Court acquitted Wang and Hung after finding that the possibility of Chen climbing over the railings by herself could not be ruled out and there was insufficient evidence to prove that she had been lifted over the railings by Wang and Hung.

However, the prosecutors appealed the ruling and took the case to the Supreme Court.

In May 2020, the Supreme Court revoked the not guilty ruling and sent the case back to the Taiwan High Court's Taichung Branch Court after finding multiple errors in the retrial.

Prosecutors can still appeal Thursday's new verdict.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel