Sat, Mar 16, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Court decides Lo's detention `proper'

LEGAL JOUSTING The Taiwan High Court sided with prosecutors over the Taipei District Court in ruling that they had indeed acted properly in detaining the former lawmaker for fraud, breach of trust and usury

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former independent lawmaker Lo Fu-chu, facing camera, walks out of the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office on Feb. 3 after the Taipei District Court ruled that his arrest was ``unlawful.''

FILE PHOTO: CHEN CHENG-CHANG, TAIPEI TIMES

The Taiwan High Court yesterday said that the arrest of former independent lawmaker Lo Fu-chu (羅福助) was lawful and asked the Taipei District Court to hold a hearing to determine whether Lo should again be taken into custody.

Prosecutors and police from the Taiwan High Court Prosecutors' Office, the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office and the Taipei City Police Headquarters' Criminal Investigation Department arrested Lo on suspicion of fraud, breach of trust and usury on Feb. 1.

Feb. 1, the first day of the new legislative term, was also the first day on which Lo no longer enjoyed immunity from prosecution as a lawmaker.

At the time, Prosecutors filed a request under the criminal code to detain Lo for longer than the maximum 24 hours for which suspects may be detained without the approval of a district court judge.

Senior Prosecutor Shen Ming-lun (沈明倫) of the Taiwan High Court Prosecutors' Office, who led the investigative team, said in his submission to the district court that prosecutors had no choice but to detain Lo because, after his arrest, he refused to answer any questions.

On Feb. 3, however, Taipei District Court Judges Yeh Chien-ting (葉建廷), Kuo Hui-ling (郭惠玲) and Chen Te-min (陳德民) released Lo, saying that his arrest had been "improper," and that it would therefore be unlawful to detain him.

They district court ruled that under Article 4 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, Taiwan High Court prosecutors may only investigate cases they suspected involved national security.

An investigation into cases like Lo's, they said, should be handled by a district prosecutor. They added that, in any case, prosecutors had failed to provide enough evidence for Lo to be detained.

Lo was then released after nearly 33 hours in custody.

Prosecutors, however, insisted that Lo had been arrested and detained in accordance with stipulated procedures. They appealed to the Taiwan High Court on Feb. 8.

The Taiwan High Court decided yesterday that Lo's arrest had been "proper." It said that under Article 250 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, Taiwan High Court prosecutors may collaborate with district prosecutors to arrest suspects in criminal cases.

As regards the request to take Lo into custody after his arrest, it said that prosecutors had good cause to believe that Lo might abscond or exchange information with other suspects involved in the case. This gave them grounds for their request under Article 76-2 and 76-3 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the High Court said.

The court decreed that another Taipei District Court hearing should be held to determine whether Lo should be taken into custody again.

"It will take us approximately seven to 10 days to process the paperwork before the Taipei District Court can hold another hearing to decide on prosecutors' request to detain Lo," said Tsai Kuo-tsai (蔡國在), the spokesman for the Taiwan High Court.

Chuang Hsiu-ming (莊秀銘), Lo's lawyer, said: "We were prepared for a decision like this, but we will try our best to urge the district court to uphold its decision to release Lo."

Shih Liang-po (施良波), spokesman for the Taiwan High Court Prosecutors' Office, said that High Court prosecutors would continue with their investigation and press for Lo's detention.

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