Sat, Sep 18, 1999 - Page 1 News List

Fugitive councilor turns himself in

HIGH-PROFILE ARREST Hsiao Teng-piao, who has led police on a merry dance for more than two years, has finally given himself up. He expects a fair trial

By Irene Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former Chiayi County Council speaker Hsiao Teng-piao turns himself in at the Chiayi Prosecutors' Office yesterday.

PHOTO: TSAI MIN-HSI, LIBERTY TIMES

After more than two years on the run from police, former Chiayi County council speaker Hsiao Teng-piao (蕭登標) surrendered himself to the Chiayi Prosecutor's Office yesterday.

But if anyone was expecting a tearful expression of remorse, they were to be disappointed, as Hsiao declared defiantly that he had not surrendered himself to confess, but rather to expose loop-holes in the government's crusade against organized crime, which had made him a target.

Hsiao, who was sought for arrest in the large-scale Chihpin (治平) crackdown on gangsters which began in 1996, has been on the lam for nearly two years, though he has put in casual public appearances at fairly frequent intervals.

Many of these appearances were due to his position as an elected councilor, as he had enjoyed immunity from prosecution when the council was in session. Indeed, on several occasions since 1996, Hsiao humiliated law enforcement authorities by disappearing as soon as his immunity lapsed with the adjournment of the council.

Earlier this month, Hsiao reportedly sent a message to authorities through his niece, legislator Hsiao Yuan-yu (蕭苑瑜), that he wanted to turned himself in and have his name cleared through legal channels. However, with a unit of heavily armed police awaiting his arrival, Hsiao did not show up as he had promised, instead issuing a statement alleging he was victim of a miscarriage of justice.

While law enforcement agencies took a whipping from the public for their failure to catch Hsiao, the fugitive managed to conduct several TV interviews in which he gave "his side of the story." These were broadcast throughout the island on Monday.

Yesterday, he finally gave himself in by turning up at the Chiayi Prosecutor's Office, where he was greeted by a crowd of television crews and reporters.

On his way into the office, Hsiao gave his reason for finally surrendering, which was that he expects his case will now more likely be subject to due process, unlike two years ago, when his "political enemy" Liao Cheng-hao (廖正豪) served as Minister of Justice.

Hsiao accused the former justice minister of using the anti-gangster crusade for political purposes against him Chiayi County, where he said Liao has close connections with his political rivals. Liao also grew up in the county.

"There were a bunch of legal loopholes in the crackdown, which was initiated by Liao. Some people were arrested without proof of their crimes being furnished, and some were convicted without a fair trial. Is this the kind of thing that takes place in a country governed by the rule of law?" Hsiao asked.

"Liao and my other enemies have exhausted every means to get me out of the political arena. When he (Liao) served as justice minister, a rather powerful position, I couldn't speak freely about these matters," Hsiao said. "So I have been waiting, waiting for the day when justice would finally be served."

The so-called Chihpin program was launched by Liao as a broad sweep against anyone with sus-pected links to organized crime. It has been pursued under the Anti-Hooligan Law, a controversial piece of legislation which allows for the circumvention of proper legal procedure. Most people charged under the program have been flown directly to the maximum security prison on Green Island after being summarily tried in a special security court. Probably the most controversial aspect of the law, however, is that people can be convicted based on the testimony of anony-mous witnesses.

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