Sat, Mar 09, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Lo may avoid assault rap

UNJUST DESSERTS At a hearing for a suit stemming from ex-lawmaker Lo Fu-chu's assault on the PFP's Diane Lee, both sides agreed to seek an out-of-court settlement

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former independent lawmaker Lo Fu-chu (羅福助) may yet escape conviction for his assault on People First Party (PFP) lawmaker Diane Lee (李慶安), after preliminary hearings in the case were suspended yesterday after both sides agreed to seek an out-of-court settlement.

The case stems from Lo's assault on Lee during a legislative committee meeting on March 28 last year. Lo was filmed on closed circuit television slapping Lee in the face.

The security tape which recorded the incident appears to show Lo's assistant Kao Ming-ta (高明達) stopping Lee's assistant from helping her. Lee subsequently filed a civil suit and criminal charges for the assault against Lo and Kao on April 9 last year. Taipei prosecutors officially indicted the pair on Oct. 8 last year.

In Taiwan, civil and criminal actions relating to the same alleged offenses are tried in joint proceedings.

The Taipei District Court yesterday held its second hearing on the suit. Lo and Kao, accompanied by their lawyer Tu Ying-ta (杜英達), attended the hearing and told the judge that they would apologize to Lee and try to solve the case privately instead of bringing it to court. Lee was not present, but was represented by her lawyer, Lee Fu-tien (李復甸).

The attorneys for both parties agreed to seek a private, out-of-court settlement.

The judge agreed to the plan and adjourned the case for one month to enable them to come to a settlement. If they fail to do so, the trial will resume.

Adjourning the hearing, Judge Tsai Ju-chi (蔡如琪) said, "If you reach a settlement, the criminal charges for assault will be dropped."

Judges in Taiwan have discretion to drop criminal charges in the event that the defendant and plaintiff to the related civil proceedings reach a private settlement.

The hearing lasted for approximately 10 minutes.

Before the hearing began, Lo told the press that he was sincere in his remorse and would do "whatever it took" to ease the pain he has caused. But Lo added that he had as yet received no response from Lee or her lawyer.

"I've said that I'm sorry more than once," Lo said. "I've been trying to reach her and let her know that I'm sorry. And I'll keep on trying until she receives my message. I think we can resolve this."

Kao and Tu had no comments.

Lee Fu-tien, however, said that neither he or Lee had ever received a call or notification from Lo of his apology. While he agreed with Lo's proposal at the hearing, he stressed that it did not mean a settlement had been reached.

"Diane wants to solve this case, too," he said. "However, we do not know how to make it happen since Lo, Kao and their lawyer have never spoken with us. We don't know what their bottom line is. And we really don't know how sincere Lo's apology is."

He said that Lee would accept Lo's apology "only under certain circumstances."

"The damage to her reputation is what she cares about the most," Lee said.

"If Lo's compromise and apology cannot fix the damage, she will not accept it."

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