Sat, Dec 24, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Thais plead not guilty to rioting


Thai workers and staff members of a Taiwanese labor management company denied the charges made against them in relation to the Kaohsiung MRT project riot yesterday at a court hearing in the southern port city.

Thai workers brought in to work on Kaohsiung's rapid transit project rioted in late August in protest against their inhumane treatment by Huapan Administration Consultant Co, which was contracted by Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corp (KRTC) to manage their living conditions while they were in Taiwan.

Thai workers Mueangjan Phon, Meemak Saranyoo, Bopribun Suksan, Kaeokone Baeng and others were indicted on charges of causing public danger, theft and impeding the execution of public duty.

Chang Juan-fang (張阮芳), an official from the Thai representative office in Taiwan, observed the hearing.

Hsu Ming-teh (許明德), attorney for the accused Thais, told the judges that the prosecution's investigation reports cannot serve as evidence because they were filled with hearsay and rumor.

He noted that the investigators obtained testimony mostly from Huapan's management, including one Thai, and that these managers themselves were among the indicted as they were in part responsible for the riot.

Through interpreters, four accused Thai workers denied that they had burned down the security guards' quarters at their dormitory and the management office and set fire to vehicles.

They also denied hurling rocks at firefighters who rushed to the scene of the riot. They further denied that they had stolen NT$750,000 (US$22,607) and 600,000 baht (US$14,659) from a safe.

Huapan staff members, including general manager Yen Shih-hua (顏世華) and manager Yang An-chi (楊安琪) were charged with gambling.

All of the accused Huapan staff denied the charges made against them, except for one staff member, Chen Jui-yuan (陳瑞源), who admitted to gambling.

Chen is also charged with impeding freedom.

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