The “White Rose” movement yesterday accused the government of arresting and jailing people only after public protests force it to do so, comments that came in the wake of the arrest of a taxi driver suspected of sexually assaulting a Japanese exchange student last week.
Hsieh Tung-hsien (謝東憲) was charged with rape and fled his apartment after being released on bail last week. Police arrested him near a cemetery in Tucheng District (土城), New Taipei City (新北市), at 11am yesterday, where he was allegedly waiting for a friend he had contacted to lend him money for his escape.
Hsieh was ordered detained at 2pm by the Banciao District Court.
Photo: Wang Min-wei, Taipei Times
Investigators said the exchange student was allegedly raped on Monday last week by Hsieh, who had offered her a ride after she got lost looking for her boyfriend’s apartment in a remote area of Tucheng District.
Police arrested him the next day and he admitted to having sex with the woman, but denied the rape charge, saying it was a one-night stand.
Despite his arrest on charges of sexual assault, Banciao District Court judge Lu Chun-chieh (盧軍傑) on Wednesday ordered Hsieh released on NT$50,000 bail, sparking outrage among netizens, who started a “Petition for the dismissal of the judge [who approved the bail]” on Facebook, which garnered more than 180,000 online fans.
While the Banciao District Prosecutors’ Office successfully appealed his release with the Taiwan High Court on Friday, Hsieh had by that time jumped bail and police were unable to locate him until yesterday.
Eva, the spokeswoman for the White Rose movement, an organization created in August last year after several cases of child molestation resulted in judgements that were largely seen as slaps on the wrist, said that as many as 74 people across Taiwan were high-risk repeat sexual offenders, with 200 more who were considered at medium-to-high risk of committing rape.
However, the government refuses to release information about those potential threats to society, which puts women at unnecessary risk, Eva said, adding that the White Rose movement would take to the streets at the end of this month.
The rally will take place on July 31 in front of the Presidential Office on Ketagalan Boulevard, she said.
The date coincides with the opening of the gates of the dead, the beginning of “Ghost Month” according to the lunar calendar, Eva said.
Some netizens said the “good brothers and sisters [ghosts]” would also take to the streets in protest and eliminate the “bad ghosts” that might again commit rape.
“How long must we wait before the government takes this problem seriously?” Eva asked, adding that although the public always made clear their anger at the erroneous judgements of so-called “dinosaur judges,” a similar event would likely happen again somewhere down the line.
WITH TRANSLATION BY JAKE CHUNG, STAFF WRITER
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