Fri, May 07, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Man's release miffs prosecutors

FREE AS A BIRD A man alleged to have threatened employees at foreign representative offices was let loose by judges, and prosecutors are hopping mad

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei prosecutors yesterday said that they are upset about a decision by the Taipei District Court to release Hsieh Hung-yi (謝宏毅), who allegedly threatened seven foreign representative offices and warned diplomats not to attend President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) inauguration. Prosecutors said they would appeal to the Taiwan High Court regarding their application to detain Hsieh.

"The court's decision to release him has hit us hard," said Chen Hung-ta (陳宏達), the spokesman for the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office.

"Law enforcement officers spent lots of time and put forth a lot of effort to arrest this man. But the judges decided to let him go just like that," Chen said.

Chen's comments followed a court decision on Wednesday to release Chen without demanding bail.

The court defended its actions in the case.

"According to the Criminal Code, Hsieh's behavior falls under the category of interference in relations with other states," said Taipei District Court Spokesman Huang Jiunn-ming (黃俊明).

"And according to the Code of Civil Procedure (刑事訴訟法), a case like this should be handled by the Taiwan High Court. Therefore, the district court is not authorized to detain him."

Chen Hung-ta, however, was not satisfied with Huang's explanation, saying that the court's decision contradicted itself and that his office planned to appeal.

According to Chen Hung-ta, "interference with relations with other states" refers to those crimes that concern foreign diplomats or leaders. He believes that because the people who received calls from Hsieh are all embassy employees -- not foreign diplomats or presidents -- Hsieh's alleged offenses do not fall in the category that Huang mentioned.

"In addition, it was Taipei District Court judges who approved the police officers' arrest warrant. Why is it that this situation became somebody else's responsibility once we had him in custody? This isn't logical, is it?" Chen Hung-ta said.

Hsieh was approached by reporters after being released. He said that he was sorry and that he he did not mean to hurt anybody.

Adding to the controversy is that another District Court had approved a detention request for Lai Chu-hsing (賴注醒), another Taoyuan resident, who was arrested on Sunday because he allegedly sent a fax to the Legislative Yuan saying the president would be assassinated if he "dares to take oath" on May 20.

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