Convicted killer absconds

EMBARRASSMENT::A British businessman who was to go to jail in September last year had left Taiwan on a friend’s passport the month before, prosecutors found

By Jason Pan  /  Staff writer, with CNA

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 - Page 1

Taipei prosecutors yesterday placed British businessman Zain Dean, convicted of killing a newspaper deliveryman in a hit-and-run accident in 2010, on the wanted list after he was found to have escaped from Taiwan by using a friend’s UK passport in August last year.

The discovery shocked and embarrassed Taiwan’s judiciary agencies and police authorities, as prosecutors only realized he had absconded when he failed to report to prosecutors in September last year to begin his sentence.

It was then they found out that Dean had already departed Taiwan, leaving from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on a flight to Bangkok, Thailand, on Aug. 14 last year.

Officials at the prosecutors’ office said several points need to be cleared up regarding Dean’s escape from the country, including possible dereliction of duty by the National Immigration Agency (NIA). Some individuals may be liable to prosecution to be punishable by law.

As Dean is of Indian origin and has a dark complexion, judiciary authorities said they were incredulous that immigration officials at the airport allowed Dean to pass through the immigration checkpoint, because the friend who lent him the passport to escape is of European descent.

The immigration official who checked Dean’s passport at the airport that day was called in to testify as a witness at the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday.

The British man who allegedly lent Dean his passport, who could be charged with forgery of documents, was also questioned yesterday as a suspect in the case.

In a second ruling handed down in July last year, Dean was sentenced to four years in jail for his involvement in the fatal hit-and-run accident in Taipei in March, 2010.

The court said that after drinking with friends in the early hours of March 25, Dean decided to drive home in his black Mercedes-Benz. On the way, he hit a scooter from behind, killing its rider, Huang Chun-te (黃俊德). Dean then fled the scene, the court said.

Dean has denied involvement in the accident, saying he sat in the passenger seat while a pub worker drove him home.

In response to the news, the victim’s family lambasted the prosecutors and the National Immigration Agency for being “completely absurd.”

“The person who killed my son not only failed to compensate us, but now the prosecutors and the police also let him run away. Who will give us justice?” the victim’s father said.

Separately yesterday, the NIA expressed its regret over the incident and said the responsible officials will be held accountable.