Taiwan's army chief seeks to quit after soldier abuse scandal

TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwan's army chief is seeking to quit after the death of a young soldier who was apparently forced to exercise excessively sparked public outrage, officials said on Saturday.

It is the second time 61-year-old General Lee Hsiang-chou has tried to step down following the death of the young corporal in a case that has already led to the resignation of a defence minister.

Army Commander Lee applied to defence minister Yen Ming to be discharged on Friday, defence officials said, but his application was rejected and it was not immediately clear what his next move would be.

The legal retirement age for a general in Taiwan is 64.

Army Commander Lee had offered to resign last month as criticism mounted against the military over the case involving corporal Hung Chung-chiu, who died of heatstroke on July 4. His resignation was rejected by then minister Kao Hua-chu.

Mr Kao stepped down at the end of last month following public anger over Mr Hung's death. His successor, Andrew Yang, resigned on Tuesday, just six days after taking office following allegations that he had plagiarised material from a mainland Chinese magazine.

A total of 18 military officials have been indicted in Mr Hung's case after military prosecutors found that the 24-year-old had been subjected to "cruel and abusive" punishment for bringing a camera phone onto his army base and for defying some duty assignments.

His family said he had previously filed complaints about other abuse meted out by his superiors.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.