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Fri, Jan 21, 2000 - Page 2 News List

Writer compensated for wrongful imprisonment

BELATED JUSTICE The author of an English grammar guide who was sent to prison in 1951 for owning a Marxist book has just received record compensation


A court has awarded NT$3.08 million in compensation to a former English textbook writer who was imprisoned for 20 months without trial in the early 1950s.

Ke Chi-hua (柯旗化), 71, author of one of Taiwan's most popular English textbooks New English Grammar, was arrested in July 1951 on charges of keeping a Marxist book at home.

He was sent to Green Island, known in the 1950s and 1960s as Taiwan's "Gulag." He was finally set free on April 16, 1953, only to be arrested again in 1961 on sedition charges and imprisoned until 1976.

"As a teacher at Kaohsiung Girls High School, Ke was young and had good career prospects at that time," the court ruling said.

"However he suffered insurmountable spiritual pain due to being jailed."

The court ruled that Ke be given NT$5,000 for each of the 616 days he spent behind bars during his first spell in prison.

The daily compensation granted to Ke is the highest to be paid out to any of Taiwan's former political prisoners, said Su Yiu-chen (蘇友晨), a human rights lawyer at the National Lawyers' Association.

According to Su, previous cases had compensated the victims at NT$4,000 per day.

His family said Ke was beaten and and tortured in jail and had been spied on by police after his release.

While welcoming what they described as "belated justice," Ke's family said, "nothing could compensate for the loss of his youth in jail."

They also vowed to continue with their court action to seek compensation for his second prison term.

Ke is one of a growing number of applicants to file for redress over wrongful imprisonment.

The Regulations for Compensation for Improper Trial Cases of Sedition and Spies during the Martial Law Period (戒嚴時期當判亂暨匪諜審判案件補償條例) were passed in 1998. A NT$10 billion fund has been established for compensation payments.

According to the terms of the regulations, Ke is eligible to seek redress for his wrongful imprisonment to the court.

For the other 15 years of imprisonment which Ke began in 1961, he could also apply for compensation from a Cabinet-level foundation, Su said.

More than 5,000 cases have been sent to the reviewing committee of the foundation, but only 14 cases have been granted compensation.

During Ke's imprisonment his family had to depend on copyright royalties for New English Grammar. said Ke's wife, Tsai A-li (蔡阿李).

Apart from the grammar book, Ke has also written two poem collections, "The calling of the earth," "Mother's sorrowful wishes," and a book named Taiwan Prison Island based on his own experiences.

Ke is now suffering from Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

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