Fri, Jul 31, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Taiwanese detained for alleged human trafficking

By Jenny W. hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Two Taiwanese men have been detained by Mexican and Costa Rican authorities over suspected human trafficking, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.

The ministry is in close contact with its foreign counterparts to ensure the two men are being treated in a humane manner, Department of Central and South American Affairs Director-General Joseph Kuo (郭永樑) said.

Kuo said on June 10 the Mexican authorities contacted Taiwan’s representative office to report that a Taiwanese named Lee Ming-hui (李明輝) had been arrested for allegedly smuggling Chinese nationals into the country.

Kuo said Lee was waiting for the verdict in his case, but he did not tell reporters when the verdict was expected.

The ministry also did not specify whether Lee was suspected of trafficking the Chinese nationals into Mexico or via Mexico to a third destination, or if Lee was acting alone or as part of a crime ring.

Kuo said the representative office in Mexico City has contacted Lee’s family and its officials visit Lee periodically to take him daily necessities.

Another Taiwanese, Shih Chia-jui (施家瑞), was arrested in Costa Rica in early April on the same charges, the ministry said.

While saying in a press release that Shih claimed he had hired a lawyer and had been cleared of all charges, the ministry told reporters that, according to information it had obtained, Shih was still being held at a detention center.

The ministry said that Shih contacted the Republic of China embassy in Panama on July 17 seeking financial help to buy a plane ticket to leave Costa Rica.

Taipei and San Jose terminated 60 years of diplomatic relations in June 2007. The embassy in Panama was overseeing the case, Kuo said.

The appeal for funds was rejected, the ministry said without explaining why the embassy refused Shih’s plea for help.

The ministry said Shih was also wanted by Pingtung District Court for violating the Passport Act (護照條例).

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