Wed, Aug 09, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Eight arrested over smuggling, gambling in jail

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taichung prosecutors yesterday arrested seven military conscripts and a Taichung Prison official on suspicion of gambling on professional baseball games and smuggling illicit products into the prison.

The seven conscripts were serving their alternative service at the prison.

A spokesman for the Taichung District Prosecutors' Office Chang Hung-mo (張宏謀) yesterday said that the eight were nabbed following a previous case in which prosecutors probed the vandalizing of a bakery in Taichung City. During that investigation, they discovered that some of the young people involved in the crime were conscripts serving at the prison.

"The draftees are suspected to have joined a criminal group which used violence to collect debts on behalf of creditors," Chang said at a press conference yesterday.

Chang said that a prison official surnamed Tu was suspected of having enticed the young conscripts to help commit crimes.

Tu let the conscripts use time they should have been dedicating to service to help recoup debts, Chang said.

Prosecutors yesterday raided the Taichung prison and arrested the seven conscripts and Tu.

Prosecutors also believe the suspects snuck banned products such as cigarettes into the prison to sell at a high price to inmates.

They also suspect Tu of accepting bribes from inmates in exchange for granting them various privileges.

Prosecutors suspected that Tu had let the conscripts gamble on professional baseball games in Taiwan using the Internet during their time at the prison. Some prisoners also gambled on baseball games through the draftees and Tu.

Prosecutor Chang said Tu illegally profited from the gambling.

Prison warden Wu Jeng-bor (吳正博) yesterday admitted that the management of the conscripts at the prison was too loose.

The Ministry of Justice yesterday said that it would investigate the matter and decide whether to discipline prison officials.

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