Sat, Feb 11, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Makiyo, friend charged with assaulting driver

'SHAMEFUL':The singer-actress and her Japanese friend were charged over an incident in which they allegedly kicked and hit a Taipei taxi driver while they were drunk

By Shelley Shan and Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff Reporters

A group of taxi drivers dissatisfied with the incident involving singer-actress Makiyo and her friend Takateru Tomoyori, who has been accused of severely injuring a taxi driver after they had been drinking, holds up a letter of protest outside the Interchange Association, Japan, in Taipei City yesterday. The letter includes a demand for the association to apologize over the incident.

Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times

The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday wrapped up its investigation into a case involving singer-actress Makiyo and her friend Takateru Tomoyori, charging both with assault and asking for four and six years imprisonment respectively over the alleged beating of a taxi driver last week.

The prosecution said it decided to charge Makiyo for assault after reviewing footage from a dashboard camera provided by another taxi driver, which prosecutors said showed that the actress kicking the driver, surnamed Lin (林).

Actresses A-tzu (ㄚ子) and Hsiang Ying (湘瑩), who were in the car, have been charged with providing false testimony.

The incident is believed to have followed the refusal by Tomoyori to fasten his seatbelt, whereupon Lin was allegedly kicked several times by Tomoyori. Lin sustained severe injuries and was hospitalized.

Earlier in the day, a group of about 20 members of the National Taxi Drivers Union submitted a protest letter to the Interchange Association, Japan, in Taipei, asking the association, which serves as the de facto embassy in the absence of official diplomatic ties, to apologize to the nation “for the tensions” caused by the dispute.

Union chief of staff Kuo Ya-hsiung (郭雅雄) said the incident had dragged on for so long and that none of the alleged perpetrators were telling the truth.

“We want dignity! We want the truth!” the protesters shouted, holding banners that said: “Find the truth” and “Violent Japanese drinkers not welcome in Taiwan.”

Although Lin’s case was an isolated incident, Japan’s representative association should say something about a Japanese national beating up a Taiwanese in his own country, said Cheng Chuan-yi (鄭釧義), an executive committee member of the taxi drivers’ association.

“They [the association] should apologize to Taiwanese and Mr Lin to help ease tensions between the two countries [caused by the incident],” Kuo said.

The association sent a representative to accept the protest letter.

In an interview with the Taipei Times, Kuo thanked the media for speaking for the victim and for allowing justice to prevail.

“The media have helped highlight the plight facing the nation’s taxi drivers,” he said.

Lawyer Yu Chun-ru (余俊儒), who was retained by the union to help Lin in the case, said the driver had indicated he would forgive the young people if they truly repented for what they did and told the truth.

People make mistakes and it is one’s attitude after making a mistake that counts, he said.

Since the controversy emerged, Kuo said several taxi drivers had come forward and said they had had Makiyo as a passenger before, adding that they had complained about her behavior. So far, none of the alleged perpetrators have offered compensation to the victim.

“Some things, like dignity, simply cannot be bought with money,” Kuo said.

Several well-known people, including former leader of the Bamboo Union gang “White Wolf” Chang An-lo (張安樂) — who has made public statements about the affair — and Yulon Motor (裕隆汽車) chairman Kenneth Yen (嚴凱泰), have indicated their intent to donate money to Lin.

Chang, a wanted fugitive who has fled to China, is the founder of the China Unification Promotion Party. One taxi association, the Grand Chinese Taxi Association, is affiliated with the party.

His involvement in the matter in Taipei appears to have been made to please China and spark anti-Japanese sentiment.

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