Taipei City’s Mortuary Services Office yesterday apologized for exhuming remains at Fu De Public Cemetery without permission from the families of the deceased.
City officials promised to determine who was responsible, as complaints emerged that property including jewelry had been stolen from the tombs.
The cemetery began a relocation project last year to move 60 tombs that had been there for 10 years and contracted a private company to do the work.
Taipei resident Wu Chao-lin (吳兆麟) and his family were asked by the office to apply on Nov. 17 for their deceased parents to be relocated.
Wu arrived at the cemetery on Nov. 17 only to find his parents’ burial place already dug up and his parents’ remains exposed in the casket.
“The office lied to me and has made me an unfilial son. I cannot forgive the city government for showing no respect for the dead in its handling of the relocation,” Wu said at a press conference at Taipei City Council.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City councilors Chuang Ruei-hsiung (莊瑞雄), Huang Hsiang-chun (黃向群) and Liu Yao-ren (劉耀仁) said they had received many more complaints from residents accusing the office of digging up tombs without giving advance notice to the families.
Furthermore, jewelry worth hundreds of thousands of NT dollars had gone missing from the tombs, Chuang said, urging the city government to offer an explanation.
Director of the mortuary office Lin Shih-chong (林世崇) bowed in apology to Wu and conceded that the city had mishandled the relocation process.
Lin said office staff failed to inform Wu that the relocation had been moved forward and he promised to shoulder responsibility for the oversight.
Yang Shih-king (楊石金), head of the city’s Department of Government Ethics, said the contractor and on-site staff from the office had failed to inform the families beforehand and were believed to have been involved in stealing property from the tombs.
Yang said he had reported the case to Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) earlier yesterday and that Hau had instructed the department to mete out the harshest punishment to those responsible.
The department will conduct a thorough investigation, Yang said.
The city government later said it would give Lin one demerit and two staff at the office two demerits each. The contract to handle the work — with a man surnamed Lin — has been canceled, it said.
Regulations for public cemeteries state that a burial spot can be rented for up to seven years.
Families must have the remains moved before the end of the contract and the office has the right to dig up the tomb and remove the remains if no one claims them at the end of the contract.