Fri, Aug 06, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Hemophiliac says police roughed him up

PHYSICAL PROFILING Infected with HIV by tainted blood products, a fragile patient says he endured an unjustified interrogation and suffered bruises and hemorrhages

By Wang Hsiao-wen  /  STAFF REPORTER

The middle-aged man with hemophilia and AIDS still shudders when he recalls how police officers "interrogated" him last Sunday.

"I can't sleep well these days. I don't know when I will be dragged into the police station again," the patient told social worker Jenet Ye (葉怡君) after he brought his allegations of police violence to Taipei District Court yesterday.

On Sunday morning, the patient was talking to his friend on a mobile phone near Taipei Main Station to arrange an outing to Yangmingshan. Two police officers, Chen Wen-tsung (陳文宗) and Cheng Chun-liang (鄭俊良), came up to him and demanded he show his identification on the spot.

"I am not a criminal," the patient recalled. "I asked them to show their police ID first. They flipped their wallets and cursed at me, shouting `You haven't got beaten by police, have you?'"

Despite a lack of any criminal evidence, the patient was pushed into their patrol car and brought to the Taipei City Police Headquarters' Chungcheng First Precinct.

The interrogation soon dissolved into shoves and punches, regardless of the patient's health condition. After being grilled for an hour, the hemophiliac was released, then hospitalized in the National Taiwan University Hospital for the next three days.

The latest incident is just one of many times the patient received unwanted police attention. His lanky figure and gaunt cheeks, inevitable effects of medication, make him a suspect in the eyes of police.

"I don't know if you have ever seen him; the patient is scrawny like a drug addict," the precinct's deputy director, Yu Yi-hsien (余一縣), said in a phone interview.

While the officers listed no physical harm in the interrogation record, the hospital report registered bruises and internal hemorrhages on the patient's right shoulder and hip joints.

"They committed paper forgery and malfeasance, and violated the Grand Justices' Interpretation Article 535 to the Constitution, which makes clear that no law authorizes the police to examine a person at any time in any place," the patient's lawyer, Chan Wen-kai (詹文凱), told the Taipei Times.

Under the Criminal Code, public officers who use threats or violence to extract evidence face imprisonment of three to seven years. Article 125 further states that an officer who abuses his or her authority in arresting or detaining a person will be sentenced to prison.

"I did nothing wrong," said the patient, who now lives on an NT$4,000 pension Taoyuan County offers for the physically and mentally challenged.

Born a hemophiliac, the patient has relied on blood-clotting medicine and government support for the past 40 years. He was among the 53 hemophiliacs who contracted AIDS from pharmaceutical giant Bayer's sale of HIV-contaminated blood products in 1983.

In the early 1980s, when the AIDS was first detected, there was no screening test for the HIV virus to prevent it from contaminating blood products. Companies later developed a heat treatment for plasma products to kill off the HIV virus.

According to lawyer Huang Tz-jung (黃子容), however, the firm still sold AIDS-risk-prone Factor VIII concentrate to Taiwan after the product became increasingly unmarketable in the US and Europe. Half of the 53 hemophiliacs who received the tainted blood products have since died.

Twenty years later, the Formosa Transnational Attorneys at Law (萬國法律事務所) filed a lawsuit this June against the drug company in California. Huang did not paint a rosy picture of the prospects for gaining legal redress.

This story has been viewed 3789 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top