Former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislator Lo Fu-chu (羅福助) was placed on the most wanted list yesterday after failing to report to prosecutors on Tuesday to begin serving a four-year prison term.
The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office made the announcement in the afternoon, adding that Lo would remain on the wanted list until December 2030 — when the statute of limitations of his case run out — or until he is caught.
The office also confiscated his NT$10 million (US$339,000) bond.
In response to criticism that the authorities again failed to prevent a major convict from absconding, the Ministry of Justice blamed gaps in the law when it comes to monitoring convicted criminals such as Lo.
The Code of Criminal Procedure (刑事訴訟法) does not allow law enforcement officials to monitor convicts’ communication lines in the days before they are expected to report to prosecutors to start their prison terms, the ministry said in a press statement.
Prosecutors can only issue warrants for convicted criminals when they fail to report for prison, it said.
The ministry said it plans to amend the law to allow prosecutors to issue warrants for major criminals as soon as the courts hand down final verdicts in their cases. It also wants prosecutors to be able to monitor convicts through electronic tags and other means as they await their final verdict.
On March 28, the Supreme Court sentenced Lo to four years in prison and fined him NT$6 million for stock manipulation, forgery and money laundering under the Securities and Exchange Act (證券交易法) and the Business Accounting Act (商業會計法).
Lo has not been seen in public for nearly a month and reports said he may have fled the country after Tomb Sweeping Day on April 4 and could be in China, Australia or the US. He is believed to have invested in a hotel in Shanghai.
Meanwhile, Minister of the Interior Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) said the period between when a final sentence in a case is handed down and the time when a convicted criminal must report to start their sentence was too long, but there is not much authorities can do unless the law is revised.
“There’s certainly a gray area in the law that can be taken advantage of and there’s always room for evaluation on whether change is needed,” he said. “There is also the practical difficulty of trying to keep track of every convict [awaiting a final verdict] 24 hours a day. We’ll discuss this with the Ministry of Justice and see what we can do.”
“We also need to respect the basic human rights of an inmate-to-be,” he added.
Additional reporting by Loa Iok-sin