Navy officer tortured to death: Taiwanese mother refutes suicide claims

PHOTO: China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan - The mother of a seaman who died mysteriously while serving aboard a Navy vessel two decades ago on Monday presented new evidence that she said could prove her son did not commit suicide, but was tortured to death.

Speaking in front of the Navy Command Headquarters in Taipei, Chen Pi-e, mother of Huang Kuo-chang, a conscript who served in the Navy before his death in 1995, presented testimony from Huang's fellow seaman surnamed Chen, which shows that Huang was the victim of bullying before his death.

Chen, who was onboard the Nan-Yang destroyer with the deceased Huang, said in testimony that boiling porridge had been poured over the victim's bare foot before he allegedly committed suicide.

Huang had also been forced to do push-ups and was kicked in the stomach a day before his disappearance, according to Chen's testimony.

The testimony, part of the Navy's internal investigation, was not seen by the Control Yuan in its previous probe into the case, according to Chen Pi-e.

Chen Pi-e further disclosed the names of those who allegedly tortured her son before his death; among them a seaman surnamed Cheng and a supply officer surnamed Wang.

She alleged that Huang's death could be the result of group bullying and torture and called on prosecutors to thoroughly probe the new lead.

She also called on the R.O.C. Navy to openly apologise as it repeatedly claimed that Huang committed suicide because he could not live with the pressure of military service.

In response, the Navy Command Headquarters sent its Deputy Commander Vice Admiral Huang Shu-kuang to apologise to Chen over the death of her son.

The senior official stressed that the Navy will assist Chen and prosecutors in investigating Huang's death.

The Case of Huang

For decades, the Navy has repeatedly claimed that Huang committed suicide by jumping off the ship he served on, on June 8, 1995.

Huang's body was later found in the sea off the coast of mainland China's Fujian province with signs of external wounds.

Photographs taken by mainland Chinese authorities also revealed that a nail had pierced Huang's skull, according to Chen.

In 1997, Chen founded the Association for the Promotion of Human Rights in the Military as part of her ongoing quest to discover the truth about her son's death while pushing the military to improve human rights conditions.

Huang's case was finally reopened in late 2013 following the establishment of a special commission under the Cabinet to review possible miscarriages of justice in military courts over the past 20 years.

After reviewing Huang's case, the commission turned it over to the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors Office for further investigation.