Executed Taiwan airman Chiang Kuo-ching innocent

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A Taiwanese air force private executed 14 years ago for the rape and murder of a five-year-old girl was innocent after all, a military court has ruled.

The court found there was no evidence linking the airman, Chiang Kuo-ching, to the crime.

The case has reignited debate in Taiwan over its use of the death penalty.

Mr Chiang was arrested in 1996 and executed in 1997. The case was reopened last year after a campaign by his parents.

A fresh investigation later found no evidence of Mr Chiang's presence at the scene of the crime and established that he was tortured into making a confession.

Since then, another man with a record of sexual abuse has been identified as a suspect.

Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou and the Ministry of National Defence have apologised to Mr Chiang's family.

But the officials who handled the original investigation will not be prosecuted. They are protected by a statute of limitations for public employees.

The ministry issued a statement regarding the court ruling on Tuesday, saying it has learned a lesson and will not allow similar miscarriages of justice to happen again.

Taiwan reintroduced the death penalty last year after a four-year moratorium. Since then, nine people on death row have been executed.

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