Kaohsiung prosecutors yesterday indicted Kaohsiung County’s Taliao Township (大寮) chief Huang Tian-huang (黃天煌) and six others for leading hundreds of Taliao residents in a violent protest in January.
The village was hit by a series of toxic gas leaks from a nearby industrial estate in December. In one case, 82 students from Chaoliao Junior High School and Elementary School became nauseous and had to be taken to hospital after they inhaled the toxic fumes while in class.
Several other instances of gas leaks were reported before local residents decided to act.
On Jan. 18, Huang led hundreds of angry residents on a march to the Ret-Ser Engineering Agency’s Tafa waste processing plant to demand an apology for the gas emissions. The residents also demanded that each person be given NT$100,000 in compensation.
The protest turned violent after villagers broke down police barricades in front of the plant. Several protesters wearing helmets and armed with baseball bats and hammers broke through police lines and began smashing the plant’s windows.
During the incident, a section chief at the park lost his helmet and suffered a concussion. A TV news reporter was also injured.
Huang and the others were charged with intentional injury and interference with public functions, said Chung Chung-hsiao (鍾忠孝), spokesman of the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors’ Office.
Prosecutors said Huang encouraged protesters to ignore police warnings to break up the protest and to enter the plant, which resulted in the clashes with police.