Thu, Apr 03, 2014 - Page 1 News List

Student leaders face legal woes

INVESTIGATION:Lin Fei-fan and Chen Wei-ting have been accused by four people of trespassing and other charges. They say they are not guilty

By Rich Chang, Chien Li-chung and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer and CNA

Student protest leaders Lin Fei-fan, left, and Chen Wei-ting, yesterday pose for photographs inside the Legislative Yuan’s chamber in Taipei.

Photo: Lam Yik Fei, Bloomberg

Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆) and Chen Wei-ting (陳為廷), leaders of the ongoing student movement against the cross-strait service trade agreement, may face legal action for their involvement in the occupation by hundreds of students of the Legislative Yuan.

Local media reported yesterday that Lin and Chen have been referred by the police to the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office for investigation on five charges: trespassing, interference with public functions, destruction of property, infringing on personal liberty and contempt of authority.

However, the office dismissed the report, saying that the pair had been accused by four anonymous individuals, not referred by the police.

“The charges against the pair are being investigated,” the office said, adding that there were other people who had also filed lawsuits against the student activists and that their accusations would be handled according to the law.

As to when and whether Lin and Chen would be summoned for questioning, the office said: “The prosecutors responsible for the cases will make the decisions based on the progress of their investigations.”

However, sources familiar with the matter told the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) that the office planned to question the pair after the Sunflower movement died down to avoid exciting the protesters inside and outside the Legislative Yuan.

So far, 43 people, including Lin and Chen, face legal action over their participation in the occupation of the legislature and the brief seizure of the Executive Yuan on Sunday last week, the sources said.

Lin and Chen said yesterday that they would take responsibility for their actions, but insisted that they are not guilty of any crimes.

“What we are doing is not illegal at all,” Chen told journalists in the legislative chamber. “But if prosecutors want to take any legal action against us, we will face it, shoulder it together and not try to dodge it.”

In related developments, an online petition launched on Tuesday by a group of 38 law professors that urges the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office to investigate the government’s forced eviction of protesters from the Executive Yuan on Monday last week has attracted about 950 signatures.

The signatories include National Taiwan University (NTU) College of Law dean Shieh Ming-yan (謝銘洋), Fu Jen Catholic University School of Law dean Chang Yie-yun (張懿云) and National Taipei University Department of Law director Lin Kuo-bin (林國彬).

The petition makes three major demands: that prosecutors uncover the truth of what happened during the forced eviction of students; that all relevant evidence be carefully protected, including video footage from surveillance cameras around the Executive Yuan and the telephone records of senior government officials; and that prosecutors ascertain whether riot police attacked unarmed protesters with batons or overstepped their powers when trying to disperse them.

Riot police were caught on camera using force and water cannons to remove protesters from the Executive Yuan.

About 110 people were injured during the eviction process, including police officers and a lawmaker.

Additional reporting by Loa Iok-sin and Yang Kuo-wen

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