Thousands protest soldier's death in Taiwan


TAIPEI, Taiwan — Tens of thousands of Taiwanese have gathered in downtown Taipei to protest the death of a 24-year old soldier confined to a brig as punishment for bringing an unauthorized cell phone onto his base.

Saturday’s protest was the biggest so far in the continuing campaign to register discontent over the death of Hung Chung-chiu on July 3.

Hung died after several days of being forced to perform a rigorous regime of push-ups, sit-ups and other exercises in sweltering heat.

Eighteen officers and NCOs have already been charged in connection with the case. President Ma Ying-jeou has apologized and the minister of defense has resigned.

The simmering anger underscores the difficulty the Taiwanese military faces as it tries to transition to an all-volunteer force.