Sun, Sep 28, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Prosecutors seek death sentence for people-smugglers

AFP AND STAFF REPORTER

Taiwanese prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for two people-smugglers charged with murder after six illegal immigrants drowned last month, according to reports yesterday.

The suspects allegedly tossed 13 Chinese illegal immigrants from a boat in the Taiwan Strait as they tried to outrun the coast guard on Aug. 26. Taiwanese authorities later found the bodies of six women.

District prosecutors in Miaoli brought the indictment against Wang Chung-hsing (王中興) and Ko Ching-sung (柯清松) on Friday, according to the Chinese-language media.

"The criminals must be removed from society for good for their brutal and inhuman acts," the prosecutors were quoted as saying.

Prosecutors also sought six- and four-year terms respectively for two other people-smugglers, Yeh Tien-sheng (葉天勝) and Tseng Chiung-ming (曾炯銘), who allegedly transported another 13 illegal Chinese immigrants on a separate boat on the same day. Yeh and Tseng apparently threw the women overboard and fled when a coast guard patrol spotted them.

The women were assumed to be destined for the sex trade in Taiwan.

The police and Coast Guard Administration have arrested 1,239 illegal Chinese immigrants this year, 1,005 of them women.

The government has rejected a request from the families of the six drowned women for NT$2.5 million (US$74,000) compensation for each victim.

According to Minister of Justice Chen Ding-nan (陳定南) the families of illegal Chinese immigrants who are injured or killed while trying to enter the country are not eligible for compensation because the victims had been commiting a criminal offense.

Although the Criminal Victim Protection Law (犯罪被害人保護法) stipulates that people who fall victim to criminals are eligible for a certain amount of monetary compensation, victims are not allowed any compensation if they are involved in criminal offenses themselves.

To solve the problem of illegal immigrants once and for all, the Cabinet is enacting a new law for the establishment of an immigration office.

If it is approved by the legislature, the office will deploy a full-time investigation squad responsible for arresting illegal immigrants and human-trafficking rings.

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