Last survivor of 1959 hotel death case petitions president

2017/12/07 22:45:28 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Huang Ping-fan (黃屏藩, right)

Huang Ping-fan (黃屏藩, right)

Taipei, Dec. 7 (CNA) Huang Ping-fan (黃屏藩) was in elementary school when his parents and five other people were convicted of murdering a man inside a Taipei hotel run by his parents in 1959.

The case, known as the Wuhan Hotel incident, is considered by some to be one of the most egregious miscarriages of justice during the White Terror era from 1949-1987.

Nearly six decades later, Huang, now 69, and his 90-year-old mother Yang Hsun-chun (楊薰春), who is the last surviving defendant, are asking the government to overturn the conviction and are placing their hopes in President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who backed the passing of a transitional justice law by Taiwan's Legislature on Dec. 5.

On Wednesday, Huang handed a petition to the Presidential Office, calling on the president to help redress the alleged wrongdoings against all the defendants in the case.

Speaking to CNA following his petition, Huang sobbed as he recalled the long fight for justice for his parents.

Although he said he was brought up in a wealthy family and his parents ran one of the most luxurious hotels in Taipei, after the 1959 incident, he was labeled the son of a "communist spy" and "murderer," Huang said.

"I hope President Tsai proves that her administration is different by how she handles this case," Huang added.

His family also petitioned for a review of the case during former President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) term but to no avail. However, the passing of the transitional justice law this week was a "ray of hope" for them, he said.

In July 1959, Yao Chia-chien (姚嘉薦), the manager of Wuhan Hotel, was found dead in the hotel. Police and prosecutors originally ruled his death was a suicide, but months later, the criminal investigation bureau took over the investigation and decided Yao's death was a homicide.

Seven individuals, including Huang's father Huang Hsueh-wen (黃學文), mother Yang Hsun-chun, employees, a lodger at the hotel, and Chen Hua-chou (陳華洲) -- a National Taiwan University professor and a friend of Huang -- were arrested and charged with murder.

The criminal investigation bureau allegedly used torture to force the seven defendants to either confess to being communist spies or murderers.

Despite being convicted of murder and jailed, all seven defendants repeatedly stated their innocence and appealed their case between 1960 and 1976.

Tao Pai-chuan (陶百川), a late member of the Control Yuan, listed the Wuhan Hotel incident and the Lei Chen (雷震) incident as the two most infamous miscarriages of justice in Taiwan.

Some have speculated that then president Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) may have been behind the criminal investigation bureau's intervention because Professor Chen Hua-chou, one of the defendants, was a close ally of Lei Chen.

Lei, a high-ranking Kuomintang official and advisor to Chiang, was imprisoned on treason charges because of his support for democratic reforms.

Others have speculated that the Wuhan Hotel case was the result of clashes between the bureau and the criminal police agency.

Huang Ping-fan said Wednesday that the case raised too many questions. For example, the original forensic report that ruled Yao's death a suicide went missing after it was sent to Japan for further examination, Huang said.

Huang Hsueh-wen, the hotel owner, was sentenced to death multiple times and granted medical parole in 1974 after being jailed for 15 years. He jumped bail and fled to the United States.

The Taiwan court issued a dismissal judgment on Huang's case in 1995, and after receiving the judgment, he returned to Taiwan to accuse the criminal investigation bureau of extorting confession by torture and demanded redress.

The Supreme Court later rescinded the judgment and sentenced Huang to life imprisonment, prompting him to flee again.

David Chou (周威霖), founder of Formosa Statehood Movement who accompanied Huang Ping-fan to the Presidential Office on Wednesday, said the case is decades old and many files have been lost, adding that the case may ultimately need to be resolved through political rather than judicial means.

Chou said they met with Yao Jen-to (姚人多), deputy secretary-general of the Presidential Office, and believe their case is finally being taken seriously.

Chang Wen-lan (張文蘭), a spokesperson for the Presidential Office, said after the meeting that the Executive Yuan is required by the new law to establish an ad hoc committee to implement transitional justice measures.

In the future, cases such as the Wuhan Hotel case can be handled by the committee, she said, adding that the Presidential Office will hand the petition and documents it received on Wednesday over to the Executive Yuan.

(By Sophia Yeh and Christie Chen)
Enditem/AW


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