Wednesday, October 8, 2014

New details on death of Taiwanese soldier

Last year, Taiwan quickly enacted military justice reform legislation, following the death of an enlisted man, Corporal Hung Chung-chiu, as a result of mistreatment during disciplinary confinement. A new medical report has just been released, casting doubt on an earlier medical examiner's report. Some details:
According to the latest autopsy report, Hung was taken to a solitary confinement room on June 28 last year, where military officers forced him and other conscripts under confinement to perform severe physical exercise drills as punishment.
As Hung was punished with the physical drills daily, performed in hot and humid conditions, his body overheated.
This overheating accumulated over several days and led to heat exhaustion that was not properly treated, and the continual physical drills eventually resulted in his death from heatstroke and multiple organ failure, the report said.
The report also identified other factors contributing to the corporal’s death, including Hung’s body having a high BMI (body mass index), lack of rest, the high number of physical drill sessions and the conditions of the confinement room.
The initial coroner report by Shih [Tai-ping] said the heat exhaustion and its effects on the body did not accumulate, thus leading to the conclusion that Hung’s death by heatstroke was “an accident.”
The 24-year-old was serving in the army’s 542nd Armored Brigade in Hsinchu County. He died on July 4 last year while detained in the unit’s solitary confinement room, where he was subjected to several days of physical drills.
The case sparked widespread public outrage and protests were held against the military over perceived widespread abuse by commanding officers against conscripts and over the army’s attempt to cover up the cause of death to protect the officers who ordered the excessive punishment.

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