Three members of an association opposed to an elevated railway in Taoyuan said on Tuesday that indictments against them amounting to a possible seven years in prison were “unjust.”
On Aug. 2 last year, the Promote Subways in Taoyuan Association staged a protest in front of the Taoyuan County Government building during a visit to the area by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九). The protest was held in opposition to the construction of an elevated railway, which they said would require the reclamation of 4,000 homes and 322 hectares of farmland.
“It’s a very steep price,” the protesters said of the proposed expropriations.
Last week, prosecutors indicted association director Hsu Wei (許為), deputy-director Hsieh Hsin-man (謝新滿) and director-general Lee Chun-hui (李春輝).
The prosecutors cited Article 136 of the Criminal Code as the basis of their indictments. Article 136 states that masterminds and perpetrators of mass violence may be indicted on charges that carry a prison sentence of a minimum of one year and a maximum of seven years.
Hsieh told a press conference hosted by DPP Legislator Huang Jen-chu (黃仁杼) on Tuesday that he felt the whole scenario was a setup to arrest the protesters because the police told them a scooter parking lot could serve as the petition area and that they could “with moderation express [their] wishes to the president.”
However, police began shoving the protesters and started arresting them when the president arrived, Lee said.
“I won’t regret [protesting] even if the court finds me guilty for trying to protect the citizens of the county,” Lee said, adding that “the government is sick, because no one cares about the forced expropriation of people’s land and homes.”
Taoyuan County deputy chief Yang Ming-sheng (楊明昇) dismissed Lee’s allegation and said the members of the association were interfering with the duties of the police and that the arrests were carried out in accordance with the law.
However, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) said the incident was being used “to make an example” of the association and scare off others who might have ideas of protesting to the president.
DPP legislator-at-large nominee Wu Yi-chen (吳宜臻) said a video recording of the protest gave no indication that there was sufficient evidence to charge the three with initiating the scuffle, adding that it was inconceivable that the prosecutors were relying on Article 136.
Saying the judiciary had become a tool to oppress the public, Huang presented a large plaque that read “The Three Subway Heroes” to the three association members at their court hearing yesterday.