Then-Taiwan Defense Minister Chen Chao-min speaks during a 2009 press conference in Taipei. (Sam Yeh / Getty Images)
TAIPEI — A former Taiwanese defense minister and five ex-military officials have been ordered to pay a total of nearly $2 million over the wrongful execution of an airman 17 years ago, a court said Thursday.
Former minister Chen Chao-min and the five others were ordered to pay the money to the defense ministry to compensate it for the $4.4 million it paid out to the family of airman Chiang Kuo-ching five years ago.
A military court in 2011 posthumously acquitted Chiang of raping and killing a 5-year-old girl at an air force base in Taipei in 1996, ruling that his confession was extracted and evidence used to convict him was insufficient.
He was executed the following year at the age of 21.
Taipeiís district court said in a statement on Thursday that Chen and the other defendants had broken the law by authorizing intelligence officers to extract a confession and putting Chiang in confinement.
Chen served as defense minister in 2008-2009 and was air force commander at the time of the case.
The case provoked intense criticism of the judiciary and prompted President Ma Ying-jeou to apologize to Chiangís family in person.
In a letter home, Chiang had insisted he was innocent and had been coerced into confessing to the crime by a group of air force intelligence officers.
Chiangís father, who died in 2010, had repeatedly appealed to various government agencies to clear his sonís name, which eventually led to the prosecution reopening the case in 2010.
Taipeiís district prosecutorsí office in 2011 charged ex-serviceman Hsu Rong-chou with the girlís murder. However, Hsu was acquitted by the high court last year due to insufficient evidence.