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Thu, Apr 20, 2000 - Page 2 News List

City police punished for Shin Kong theft debacle

DISCIPLINE The deputy mayor says that all police officers responsible for wrongfully detaining and forcing confessions from four Shihlin youths have been punished; he also outlined measures aimed at preventing further breaches of police procedure

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

FILE PHOTO

The Taipei City government yesterday announced it is taking disciplinary action against a total of seven police officials and officers who were involved in efforts to solve a recent robbery at the home of a wealthy family on Yangmingshan, after which four Shihlin youths were detained without evidence.

The youths were later released after DNA evidence contradicted oral testimony provided by the suspects, and others have since been arrested.

Taipei City Deputy Mayor Ou Chin-der (歐晉德) and Director of the Department of Information King Pu-tsung (金浦聰) told reporters yesterday that both Shihlin precinct police chief Hung Chun-mu (洪春木) and criminal investigation section chief Chen Yi-te (陳義德) had received two demerits each, in addition to being removed from their posts.

Shihlin precinct deputy chief Tsai Wan-lai (蔡萬來) also received one demerit, as did the two officers handling the case -- officers Hsu Wen-pin (徐文林) and Wu San-fu (吳三福). The officers have admitted to "lightly tapping" on one of the suspects' faces.

The Director of Taipei City Police Headquarters, Wang Jinn-wang (王進旺), and his deputy, Feng Tung-sen (馮棟森) also received reprimands.

Ou said he believed the disciplinary action was necessary.

"The Shihlin police precinct apparently handled the case inappropriately, affecting the rights and interests of city residents and sabotaging the image of the city's police as a whole," he said.

Ou said Taipei City Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) regretted the incident, and made the final decision concerning the disciplinary measures after discussions with the city's police headquarters.

Ou added that the mayor has demanded that city police precincts and stations already equipped with interrogation rooms should complete installation of surveillance cameras within three months, so procedure during police questioning can be recorded.

Stations without such facilities, Ou said, should complete equipment installation by the end of the year.

As for why superior officers received harsher punishment than those who actually handled the case, Ou said it was based on the principle of "rewards from the bottom up, discipline from the top down."

The robbery took place on March 29, in which NT$1.3 million in goods were stolen from the home of a prominent businesswoman, Wu Ju-yueh (吳如月), daughter of Shin Kong Group chairman Wu Huo-shih (吳火獅).

Four neighborhood youths who lived near Wu's house were later detained by Shihlin precinct police.

During their four days of police detention, the four gave conflicting confessions, which they later retracted.

All four were subsequently set free when police found that evidence they had collected from the scene could not be pinned on the suspects.

Several days later, after pinpointing the signal from a cellular phone stolen during the robbery, police discovered evidence linking other suspects to the crime scene, and subsequently made more arrests, this time announcing that they had cracked the case.

Officers from the precinct publicly apologized to the youth's families on April 13, but the families said a verbal apology failed to solve the problem of abuse in custody and of forced confessions.

They asked the Examination Yuan to investigate the precinct to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.

The lawyer for the four youths has demanded national compensation and a complete overhaul of the judicial system, while city councilors have requested the removal from office of the Shihlin precinct chief.

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