If Taiwanese suspects involved in fraud cases overseas are repatriated to Taiwan, the judicial authorities will treat such cases as major economic crimes and will prosecute the suspects, a Ministry of Justice (MOJ) official said yesterday.
Deputy Minister of Justice Chen Shou-huang (陳守煌) was responding to questions on whether Taiwan had the right to try Taiwanese suspects who commit crimes overseas.
At issue was the case of 14 Taiwanese suspected of involvement in a cross-border fraud case who were caught along with 10 Chinese in December and deported to China by Philippine authorities on Feb. 2, despite strong protests by Taiwan.
Chen said that according to the Republic of China Constitution: “Mainland China is part of the territory of the Republic of China [ROC], which therefore has jurisdiction over the case.”
“A crime committed in mainland China is considered to be a crime committed in the ROC according to a precedent set by the Supreme Court in 1982, and we definitely have the rights of jurisdiction and court trial,” he said.
Asked whether the more than 1,000 Chinese victims of the con artists will come to Taiwan to testify if the suspects are returned, Chen said the witnesses would be summoned in principle.
He said the judicial procedure would be lengthy with so many witnesses and that the court would have to provide them all with travel and accommodation fees.
Chen said his ministry has contacted China about the case six times, expressing the hope that China would protect the rights of the suspects and allow for visits by their relatives. It has also asked China to respect a cross-strait judicial assistance pact signed in 2009.
He dismissed reports that the Taiwanese suspects could get lenient sentences if they are returned to Taiwan, saying that they would be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law, which could entail jail terms of up to 30 years.
Meanwhile, at a separate setting yesterday, Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) asked government agencies to review the cross-strait judicial assistance pact signed by Taiwan and China in 2009, in view of growing cross-border crime.
“More comprehensive regulations should be incorporated into the pact and an arbitration mechanism should be established after the review,” Wu said. “This will serve as a basis for handling cross-border cases in the future.”
According to Mainland Affairs Council Minister Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛), the council has sent an official statement requesting China to send 14 Taiwanese suspects to Taiwan in accordance with the cross-strait agreement on joint efforts to combat crime and asked China to provide details of their involvement in the fraud case.
“We urge the mainland side to return the persons to Taiwan soon to stand trial to enhance positive interactions between the two sides,” Lai said, adding the council promised that the suspects would be “severely punished.”
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MO YAN-CHIH