Taiwan president Ma Ying-jeou vows justice for dead corporal

TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwan's president on Wednesday vowed to seek justice for a corporal who died after allegedly being abused in the military, in a case that sparked anger across the island.

On Saturday, tens of thousands of people demonstrated outside the defence ministry in Taipei, after Hung Chung-chiu died of heatstroke apparently caused by being forced to exercise excessively earlier this month.

Allegations of abuse and misconduct have snowballed in local media, including Hung's superiors refusing to give him water during an exercise session despite his repeated requests.

"We will not allow such a tragedy to happen again... We will return justice to the victim and his family," said Mr Ma Ying-jeou at a ruling Kuomintang party meeting, while bowing briefly in front of cameras to apologise.

"We will thoroughly review the disciplinary system to let the public regain trust in the military so they can be rest assured that their children will receive reasonable treatment in the military," he added.

Local media reported that Hung was at odds with his superiors for making complaints against them and that he had been placed in solitary confinement for taking a smartphone onto the army base.

He died just three days before he was due to be discharged following completion of his compulsory year-long military service.

Taiwan's defence ministry has apologised for Hung's death and vowed 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 placed on 26 others.