The not-guilty verdict handed down on Friday for six former managers of Ting Hsin International Group (頂新國際集團) — including former executive Wei Ying-chun (魏應充) — over the 2013 cooking oil scandal has triggered harsh criticism from both the public and politicians.
However, what should really be protested is their unequal treatment in court, which needs to be the focus of judicial reform.
In 2013, the public was shocked by allegations that Ting Hsin was importing animal fat from Vietnam to manufacture cooking oil, and demanded that the group’s leaders be penalized.
Originally, the prosecutor called for a 30-year prison term for Wei.
However, the judge on Friday ruled that the prosecution failed to provide sufficient evidence to support the charges, and found the defendants not guilty.
The verdict drew criticism from politicians, such as the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus, which condemned the ruling for failing to meet public expectations, while the Ministry of Health and Welfare said that it was disappointed by the verdict.
However, a court verdict is not meant to “meet public expectations” and should be made based on the principle of “innocent until proven guilty.”
From a judicial point of view, if a judge makes a ruling because the prosecution failed to provide evidence to support the charges, then this follows the legal process.
Instead of criticizing the verdict, what should really be discussed is why the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” seems to apply only to people with influence.
Although martial law was lifted 28 years ago and politics has been mostly democratically transformed, the judiciary seems to be stuck in the Martial Law period.
There have been countless cases in which people were found guilty by the court even though there was insufficient evidence to support the charges.
Hsieh Chih-hung (謝志宏) was accused of being an accomplice in a rape and manslaughter case in 2000 and was sentenced to death.
However, the only “evidence” that supported the charges were the testimony of his friend Kuo Chun-wei (郭俊偉), who was also a defendant in the case, and a confession made by Hsieh without the presence of an attorney and which, he later said, was made under duress.
Hsieh’s clothes showed no evidence of blood. A knife said to have been used in the murder was not checked for fingerprints. Hsieh’s scooter, which was said to have been at the crime scene, showed no evidence of blood either.
Hsieh’s is not an isolated case.
These potentially wrongly judged cases could have been avoided if the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” was applied to every case.
There might be questions about the ruling in the Ting Hsin case, but the way to “correct” the verdict should be to provide sufficient evidence to prove culpability, instead of calling on the court to make a ruling that “meets public expectations.”
While the ministry said that it was disappointed by the ruling, maybe it should follow Democratic Progressive Party Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) advice and provide relevant evidence to the prosecutors’ office if it seeks to appeal the case.
An old Latin adage reads: Si vis pacem, para bellum. Translated it means: “If you wish peace, then prepare for war.” This adage has many variants and claims to authorship, but what is most important is its message for a peaceful Taiwan. Why should Taiwan prepare for war? The reasons are many and obvious. Certainly, such preparation is not because Taiwan wants war or is a warlike nation. Instead, the answer is found in its neighbor, China. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which rules China as a one-party state, is ambitious and troubled — and that combination makes war a viable option,
As Taiwan moves toward English-only instruction in 60 percent of elementary and high schools by 2024, with the goal of having a bilingual generation by 2030, the Ministry of Education is looking to ramp up the influx of foreign teachers. Hopefully the plans go beyond this simplistic road map, because some thorny matters need to be addressed. One of these issues is a frustrating paradox that foreign English teachers in Asia often realize after putting in enough time in the classroom. Countries such as Taiwan, Japan and South Korea place great emphasis on English education, but their societies put up barriers
As a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) cadet, I frequently get asked how quickly the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) might overrun Taiwan if it invaded before 2040. My answer is that the PLA will not be able to take over Taiwan within that time frame, because the more eager the PLA is to complete the task in a short period, the more likely it would fail — and fail big. Having a slim chance of winning is what keeps the PLA from taking action. From time to time, some PLA leaders or keyboard fighters make threats — one of the
With the World Bank and the IMF yesterday starting their annual meetings, all eyes are on Evergrande, China’s second-largest property developer, which apparently cannot repay about US$300 billion it owes to banks, bondholders, employees and suppliers. With the property giant teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, the world is being forced to contemplate a scenario it had never seriously considered — a made-in-China financial crisis. Observers have been quick to draw parallels between the Evergrande debacle and past crises. Some compare it to the 2008 crash of the US investment bank Lehman Brothers, which triggered a massive banking and financial crisis.