Editor’s note: This is the third and final piece in a series of articles on Transitional Justice in Taiwan by our writer Yu Shen Cheng.
Around noon on February 28th, 1980, an unknown person broke into Lin Yi-hsiung’s residence and stabbed his mother and three daughters.
Only one daughter survived the attack.
The public have long doubted the motivation behind the attack on Lin’s family and as Lin was under close surveillance it is thought the crime couldn’t have been carried out by an ordinary person.
In fact, it is widely believed that the authoritarian Kuomintang regime of the time was involved in the killings, and that the close monitoring of his family led to the murders.
The direction of the investigation led by the Criminal Investigation Bureau 40 years ago was haphazard, and included possible suspects who were non-KMT linked, the mentally-challenged, and conspiracies from overseas sources, but no solid findings were ever made.
And until now, the murders, despite investigations by the Control Yuan in 1996, the Taipei City Government in the same year, the Criminal Investigation Bureau in 1998 and 2007, and the Taiwan High Prosecutors Office in 2009, little progress has been made.
Major findings of the Transitional Justice Commission investigation
Since the investigation conducted by the Criminal Investigation Bureau was believed to ignore the national monitoring of Mr.Lin, Taiwan’s Transitional Justice Committee (TJC) focused on the interference of the intelligence apparatus in the case.
The TJC studied monitoring records held by the National Security Bureau, the Ministry of Defense, the National Police Agency, etc. and discovered that Lin was monitored by the Taiwan Garrison Command, the National Security Bureau, the Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau, and others.
A wide range of monitoring methods were used against Lin.
The report, citing now declassified files, revealed that Lin’s residence had been under close surveillance through informants for as long as a year prior to the murders.
Despite the fact that Lin had been held in custody for two months before the massacre, his family was still under surveillance following the Formosa Magazine arrest.
The TJC also pointed out that an intelligence unit had a recording of a key phone call in the case, but that the recording was allegedly destroyed.
The National Security Bureau (NSB) said that they weren’t informed about the case, and that they didn’t keep the ‘relevant’ record.
However, according to police records, the NSB acknowledged the case that day.
The TJC thus assumed that the intelligence apparatus in place at the time was the mastermind behind the triple killings, or that NSB feared the murderer could link government authorities to the killings after listening to the key record.
Either way, the authoritarian KMT government and intelligence apparatus ‘possibly’ played a role in the triple murder.
According to the report, the monitoring continued even after the killings for the purpose of protection and further chasing down of the suspect.
The documents held by the NSB show that Lin’s friends and other participants in the Formosa Magazine Incident were thus ‘protected’ and monitored until at least July 1980.
And the NSB insisted that some of files still could not be made available until 2030, a full 50 years after the murders, even though the TJC has urged full disclosure of relevant documents based on the public interest.
The TJC also called for the government to again investigate governmental institutions involved in the killings to reveal the truth.