Red Brick Daily
Petty Officer 2nd Class Kao Chia-chun (高嘉駿) was indicted by the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors Office on Monday (August 29, 2016) for professional negligence causing death.
Officials say that Kao was ultimately responsible for launching a Hsiung Feng III anti-ship missile from the Ching Chiang corvette ship docked at Kaohsiung’s Zuoying Military Harbor on July 1, 2016.
Prosecutors claim Petty Officer Kao failed to follow standard procedures.
If found guilty, Kao faces a five-year prison term. Kao was also slapped with additional charges for violating the Criminal Code of the Armed Forces, and could face another five years behind bars for destroying military arms or ammunition.
Also charged were Petty Officer Chen Ming-hsiu (陳銘修), Kao’s supervisor, and Lieutenant Hsu Po-wei (許博為), the officer in charge of supervising weapons on the ship.
They both face three to 10 years in jail if convicted of neglecting official duties.
The missile hit a fishing vessel in waters off Penghu, and the Taiwanese skipper Huang Wen-chung was killed. Three crewmen on the fishing boat were also injured.
The Defense Ministry says it agrees with the prosecutor’s findings and is taking measures to ensure such an accident never happens again.
New Navy safety measures include authorization codes that must be entered by a warship’s captain before a missile launch and different colors for wires connecting to control panels so sailors can immediately tell the difference between wires used for drills … and those used in real combat.
Like nearly every incident across the world these days, conspiracy theories have popped up online … with some in Taiwan accusing members of the Armed Forces of deliberately firing the missile to embarrass new DPP President Tsai Ying-wen.
There is, however, no evidence for such claims and an anonymous retired high-ranking ROC military commander told the Red Brick Daily that he believed it was indeed possible for a missile to be fired by accident.
The investigation, both by civilian and military courts, is ongoing.
*Photo via CNA