Mon, May 26, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Notorious Pinglin prison to become luxury hotel

FEEL RIGHT AT HOMEThe renovation will preserve characteristic features of the architecture to highlight its history as a Martial Law-era jail for political prisoners

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei County’s Pinglin Township (坪林) will remodel a former prison belonging to the notorious Taiwan Garrison Command (警備總部), turning it into a luxury hotel.

Taipei County Commissioner Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋) told reporters that Pinglin’s location next to Feitsui Reservoir (翡翠水庫) in a water conservation area meant that the mountain township was barred from constructing new buildings for hotels. By transforming the one-time prison, the township could bypass that regulation, he said.

Chou said the Pinglin facility would become the nation’s first “prison hotel.”

The county and the Ministry of Justice, which owns the former prison, will cooperate on the project, he said.

The commissioner said the renovation would preserve characteristic features of the architecture to highlight the building’s historical background.

Visitors will feel the history of the prison while staying at the hotel, the commissioner said.

Ministry official Hsueh Wen-wei (薛文偉) said that the former prison, where political prisoners and gangsters were held, was used between 1969 and 1987. The facility held more than 2,000 prisoners at a time, Hsueh said.

He said the prison had a dramatic history, as the military shot a number of prisoners there in an attempt to prevent a riot in the 1970s.

In 1981, a fire started by prisoners killed several inmates.

He said the former prison has belonged to the ministry since the Taiwan Garrison Command, a military state security agency during the Martial Law era from 1949 to 1987, was abolished.

Hsueh said the ministry initially proposed turning the facility into a rehabilitation center for drug addicts, but met with strong opposition from residents of the township.

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