TAIPEI - Taiwan's defence minister has resigned over the death of a corporal who was allegedly being abused in the military, it was reported Monday in a case that has sparked outrage across the island.
Kao Hua-chu will be succeeded by his deputy Andrew Yang, the state Central News Agency said, adding that the announcement will be made in a press conference to be chaired by Premier Jiang Yi-huah at 2:30 pm (0600 GMT).
The resignation, if confirmed, was apparently aimed at pacifying outrage over the death of corporal Hung Chung-chiu, who died of heatstroke apparently caused by being forced to exercise excessively.
He died on July 4, just three days before he was due to be discharged following completion of his compulsory year-long military service.
Allegations of abuse and misconduct have snowballed in local media, including claims that Hung's superiors refused to give him water during an exercise session despite his repeated requests.
Hung was reportedly at odds with his superiors for making complaints against them, with local media saying he had been placed in solitary confinement for taking a smartphone onto the army base.
Both President Ma Ying-jeou and Kao have apologised for the tragedy, vowing to thoroughly investigate the case and severely punish those responsible.
Currently four military officials have been detained by authorities on abuse charges in connection to the case, while punitive measures have been taken with regards to 26 others.
But the investigation has failed to appease public ire, with thousands of people demonstrating outside the defence ministry in Taipei earlier this month.