Fri, Feb 09, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Wang hearing on Tuesday

IMMIGRATION WAIT The fugitive Rebar Group chairman will have his preliminary hearing in what experts have said is likely to be a drawn-out battle against repatriation


Fugitive Rebar Group chairman Wang You-theng (王又曾) is scheduled to make his first appearance before a US immigration judge on Tuesday at the beginning of what many observers expect to be a lengthy procedure in his bid to avoid repatriation to Taiwan to face embezzlement and other charges.

US immigration authorities have set a preliminary court appearance for Wang on Feb. 13 at 8am in the San Pedro detention facility south of Los Angeles, where he has been held since being interdicted on his attempted entry into the US last Friday.

The hearing will be preliminary in nature, and will deal largely with housekeeping items, according to Elaine Komis, a spokesman for the Executive Office of Immigration Review, which is handling the case.

In the hearing, called a master calendar hearing, the judge will discuss the charges, whether Wang needs legal representation, whether Wang wants to seek relief from deportation and similar issues.

"It's the first meeting with the judge and preliminary discussions. The merits of the case are discussed later in an individual hearing," Komis said.

In some cases, a decision on whether or not to deport an alien is made at the first hearing, but not in most instances, she said.

The US' case will be presented by a prosecutor from the Department of Homeland Security, which includes the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency that is detaining Wang.

Provide briefs

While Taiwanese authorities will not have a separate role in the proceedings, they can provide briefs and other material to the court through the prosecution, Komis said.

Meanwhile, Mainland Affairs Council Chairman Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), who is visiting Washington, said that Taiwan would have to be patient in seeking a conclusion to the Wang case.

In his talks with US officials and others, "the sense I got is it might not be as optimistic as we want, because the United States is a country that strictly adheres to the legal system and legal procedures," which can be lengthy, he told the Taipei Times.

Taiwan's desire for a fast return for Wang was "not a realistic assessment of the real situation. If the case becomes legally entangled, Taiwan must wait for the results," Wu said. "I don't think this is going to proceed in an easy fashion."

Wu expressed some hope that ongoing cross-strait efforts to convince China to deport fleeing criminals may eventually bear fruit. Those contacts involve academics from both sides at conferences in which Taiwan seeks "to let the Chinese side understand the depth of the issues," and the anger of the Taiwanese people over China's refusal to turn over criminals.

"I think they have a much better understanding right now because of the Wang case, opinion surveys and news clips from Taiwan," he added.

More conferences

There may be more such conferences between academics and perhaps semi-governmental officials to find a better way to deal with the issue, Wu said.

He also called on cooperation from China based on the 1993 cross-strait meeting between Taiwan's Strait Exchange Foundation chairman Koo Chen-fu (辜振甫) and China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait chairman Wang Daohan (汪道涵) in Singapore, and the consensus on cross-strait issues reached in their meeting in October 1998 in Beijing.

Asked whether China seemed willing to help, he said, "not at this point. But in recent contacts, they seem to be getting a much better understanding of the situation."

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