Thu, Feb 03, 2005 - Page 4 News List

Status of `accidental' fugitive clarified

A SPECIAL CASE Prosecutors explained why they released an inmate who tried to commit suicide in their office -- he could not afford the NT$108,000 fine

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Prosecutors yesterday denied "accidentally" releasing Yeh Ying-hung (葉盈宏), a drug addict who was sentenced to four months in jail and who tried to commit suicide at the prosecutors' office.

A Chinese-language newspaper reported that Taipei prosecutors allegedly released Yeh "accidentally" and without posting bail because he tried to commit suicide with a pocket knife when prosecutors were trying to transfer him to the Taipei Prison to begin his four-month jail term. Yeh has since disappeared and lost contact with prosecutor's office.

"I think this is merely a misunderstanding," said Lin Bang-liang (林邦樑), spokesman for the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office. "We did everything by following the manual, so it is impossible for such a thing to occur at the prosecutors' office."

According to Lin, Yeh was a wanted fugitive and Taipei City Police Department eventually relocated and arrested him on Dec. 13.

Police transferred him to the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office and prosecutors were planning to escort him to Taipei Prison to begin his sentence.

Lin said that Yeh's four-month sentence could be replaced by a fine of NT$108,000, so prosecutors asked Yeh whether he would pay the fine instead of going to jail.

Yeh said he had no money and was upset that he was going to prison.

Yeh then panicked, pulled out a pocket knife and tried to commit suicide, prosecutors said. Prosecutors immediately contacted Yeh's family members. His girlfriend told prosecutors that Yeh has been suffering from mental illness for a long time.

Prosecutors decided to release him and asked him to return to the prosecutors' office again when summoned.

"What prosecutors did was based on Article 467 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (刑事訴訟法) which says that prosecutors would temporarily stop enforcing the law when the subject's life is endangered," Lin said. "We did not let him go without a reason."

"In addition," he said, "the Ministry of Justice has ordered prosecutors to be more flexible when they are dealing with such cases, and when sentences can be replaced by fines. So we decided to let him go at that time."

However, Lin also acknowledged that Yeh had disappeared and lost contact with prosecutors since his December release.

As a result, the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office is currently considering issuing another warrant for his arrest.

According to Taipei Judge Wu Meng-liang's (吳孟良) verdict on May 26, Yeh was sentenced to four months in prison because he was an amphetamine addict and still continued taking the drug after going through an eight-week rehabilitation program in April.

Yeh did not appeal to the Taiwan High Court, and he failed to solve his legal status on time. The Taipei District Prosecutors' Office then announced the warrant for his arrest on Sept. 21.

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