Sat, Apr 18, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Prosecutors seek detention for guards

FORBIDDEN FRUIT Five prison guards are suspected of smuggling prohibited items to prisoners for a price. Two former guards and a prisoner’s relative were questioned

By Rich Chang and Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Banciao prosecutors yesterday asked the Banciao District Court to detain five prison guards from the Taipei Detention Center in Tucheng (土城), Taipei County, and three middlemen over alleged bribery.

“We are seeking the district court’s approval for the detention of the eight for ­corruption,” district prosecutor’s office spokesman Cheng Hsin-hung (鄭鑫宏) said.

Banciao prosecutors on Thursday led a number of agents from the Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau in a raid on offices and cells at the detention center, seizing prohibited articles including condoms, cigarettes, betel nuts and adult books.

Prosecutors then questioned five prison guards and three middlemen.

As of press time, the Banciao District Court had not decided whether to detain the eight men.

Prosecutors said the five guards were suspected of receiving bribes from prisoners or their friends in return for smuggling prohibited articles to prisoners.

The three middlemen were two former prison guards and a family member of a prisoner. The three were suspected of acting as brokers between prisoners and guards, prosecutors said.

The director of the detention center, Lee Mong-tong (李孟東), told a press conference yesterday the detention center was made aware in October 2007 that a prisoner surnamed Huang was suspected of contacting guards and smuggling betel nut and adult books into the center for other prisoners, adding that the center then gave the information to Banciao prosecutors for further investigation.

Lee rebutted allegations that inmates bribed some guards to allow visits from prostitutes and that the women would briefly bare their breasts for prisoners to look at.

In response to the news, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday demanded the Ministry of Justice look into the alleged corruption and hand out stiff penalties if the suspects were found guilty.

“There’s no other way to handle such a thing except to face it honestly, investigating the cases thoroughly and giving a heavy penalty,” Ma said yesterday during a visit to Tainan Prison’s Mingte Drug Abstention and Treatment Center.

Accompanied by Minister of Justice Wang Ching-feng (王清峰), Ma also promised to fight drug abuse.

Ma acknowledged that banning drugs entirely would be an impractical goal. The top priority of anti-drug abuse policy in Taiwan is to reduce the number of first-time drug users, he said.

“Anti-drug abuse work should succeed if we can reduce the rate of drug abuse relapses to less than 30 percent,” Ma said.

The rate of drug abuse relapses in the country was 34 percent last year, statistics from the ministry showed.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY DPA

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