Wed, Mar 21, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Mistaken arrest indicates `fatal flaws': rights activist

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The mistaken arrest of the wrong man in a murder case demonstrates how the police disregard human rights in handling investigations, critics said yesterday.

Chen Jung-chi (陳榮吉), who has a mild mental disability, was arrested on Friday night. He was one of two individuals suspected of killing a man on a highway on Thursday night in Tainan County.

After being detained for three days, Chen was released on Monday night when police found out that he could not have been at the scene of the crime.

"The case reveals fatal flaws in the investigation process," said Sun Yi-hsin (孫一信), deputy secretary-general of the Association for Persons With Intellectual Disabilities.

"Either the police or prosecutors failed to abide by regulations concerning the protection of handicapped people's human rights," he said.

Article 31 of the Criminal Procedure Law (刑事訴訟法), as well as an order issued by the National Police Agency to local police stations in 1995, protect people with intellectual disabilities who have been accused of crimes from being questioned unless they are accompanied by lawyers and special education teachers, Sun said.

"Police and prosecutors evidently violated the regulations [in Chen's case]," Sun said at a press conference held by Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wang Jung-chang (王榮璋).

Hung Chieh-su (洪界速), a social worker who has been assisting Chen and his family, told the press conference that she was not able to find a lawyer to help Chen during his detention because it occurred during the weekend.

"I felt sad that I couldn't help him [Chen] when he was in need of help," Hung said.

"He has a language disability and is unable to express himself well," she said.

Wang urged the police and prosecutors to implement regulations and measures to protect the handicapped so that the mistake does not get repeated.

At a separate setting yesterday, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) apologized to Chen's family and said the police should engage in introspection about the mistaken arrest.

"Honestly, the police should admit they made a mistake and apologize," Su said.

"I must say, however, that their hard work on the case should also be recognized. Nonetheless, I would ask the police not to repeat their mistake in the future," he said.

Su did not elaborate on the potential punishment for police personnel involved in Chen's mistaken arrest.

"I would ask the police to launch an internal investigation on the issue," he said.

"I think that the high-ranking police officials should come up with the appropriate measures," he said.

Additional reporting by Jimmy Chuang

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