Wed, May 14, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Prosecutors look into case of the missing masks

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Taipei District Prosecutors' Office yesterday announced the establishment of a special task force led by a chief prosecutor to investigate whether imported surgical masks were impounded.

The announcement came in response to orders handed down on Monday by State Public Prosecutor-General Lu Jen-fa (盧仁發), after he met with officials from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Fair Trade Commission and the local district prosecutors' office to discuss the shortage of surgical masks and respirators ever since the outbreak of SARS in this country late last month.

"We will figure out whether somebody is impounding masks on purpose. In the meantime, we also welcome any phone calls, faxes or e-mail messages which may lead to a mask-impoundment case," said Chen Hung-ta (陳宏達), the spokesman for the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office.

"You can call 0800-024099 or 02-2311-1816, fax 02-2375-6892 or e-mail if you discover anybody who is trying to impound masks for profiteering," Chen said.

Chen said that the district's Prosecutor-General Morley Shih (施茂林) has assigned Chief Prosecutor Kao Ta-fang (高大方) to lead the special task force.

Chen said that impounding masks and profiteering by selling them at an inflated price will be regarded as a violation of the Article 251 of the Criminal Code.

Article 251 of the code states that "a person who by threats, violence or fraud commits one of the following offenses shall be punished with imprisonment for not more than five years:

One, obstructs the sale or transportation of grain or other foodstuffs needed by the public, thereby causing a deficiency in the market;

Two, obstructs the sale or transportation of seed, fertilizer, raw material or other basics needed in agriculture or industry, thereby causing a deficiency in the market."

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