Taiwanese Navy officers sentenced to prison for deadly missile misfire

The three officers were sentenced to up to two years in prison over negligence in causing death and injury while on duty.

The Ching Chiang corvette from which a Hsiung Feng III anti-ship was misfired.

The Ching Chiang corvette from which a Hsiung Feng III anti-ship was misfired. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The three Taiwanese Navy officers prosecuted for a fatal misfiring of a supersonic missile that claimed the life of a fisherman in July 2016 were sentenced to up to two years in prison by the Kaohsiung District Court Saturday.

The defendants, Lieutenant Hsu Po-wei (許博為), Petty Officer Chen Ming-hsiu (陳銘修), and Petty Officer Second Class Kao Chia-chun (高嘉駿) were sentenced to 14 months, two years, and 18 months respectively over the charge of negligence in causing death and injury while on duty according Article 276 of the Criminal Code. The defendants can appeal the court decisions.

The accident took place on July 1, 2017, when Kao, unwatched by his supervisor Chen, misfired a Hsiung Feng III anti-ship missile from a 500-ton Ching Chiang corvette docked at a naval base in Kaohsiung prior to a scheduled morning drill.

The missile eventually arrived at the Taiwan Straits off the Penghu islands and smashed through a fishing trawler in the area, leaving the skipper Huang Wen-chung killed instantly and three crew members injured, including Huang's son and a Vietnamese.

The relatives of the deceased skipper received NT$34.84 million (US$1 million) in compensation from the Ministry of Defense, said the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) in November 2016.

The misfiring of the Navy missile was the single most expensive governmental compensation of the year, according to MOJ.