The Taiwan High Court yesterday sentenced former Taiwan Association for Human Rights (台灣人權促進會) president Peter Huang (黃文雄) to four months in prison for returning to Taiwan in 1996 without first seeking permission from the government.
"Huang violated Article 3-1 of the National Security Law (國家安全法), so the court sentenced him to four months in prison, but the sentence could be waived in lieu of a NT$900 daily fine for the duration of the sentence," said Judge Tsai Yung-chang (蔡永昌).
The requirement to apply to re-enter the country was stipulated in the National Security Law, passed in 1987 when the government lifted martial law.
During his first trial on Feb. 15, 2000, Huang was sentenced to five months in jail by the Taipei District Court.
When approached by reporters yesterday afternoon, Huang said that the court decision is unconstitutional. Yesterday's ruling actually gave him an opportunity to apply for an interpretation of the article from the Council of Grand Justices.
"The verdict is not reasonable because the grand justices said in April that Taiwanese citizens have the right to travel abroad and return to the country without first applying to the Ministry of the Interior," Huang said.
"As a result, I think I will apply for another interpretation from the Council of Grand Justices after I speak with my lawyer."
In the meantime, Huang said that he will complete his four-month sentence instead of paying the fine.
When reviewing Huang's case, Tsai argued that Article 3-1 of the National Security Law is unconstitutional, so he filed the request to apply for an interpretation on behalf of Huang on Sept. 5, 2000.
On April 18 this year, grand justices agreed that the Immigration Law (入出國及移民法), which was passed in 2000 and gives everyone with household registration in Taiwan the right to travel freely, supersedes the National Security Law.
However, the interpretation applies only to those convicted under Article 3-1 of the National Security Law for crimes committed since May 21, 2000, when the Immigration Law came into effect. According to the grand justices, Huang's case is not one of them.
Huang was a key figure in the assassination attempt on then president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) in New York in 1970, for which he was blacklisted by the government.