The High Court on Wednesday overturned a lower court’s ruling and upheld the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) rejection of compensation claims by 17 Chinese citizens it allegedly recruited years ago to collect intelligence in China.
A Chinese man surnamed Tang (唐), who was pursuing the claims on behalf of the Chinese citizens, said the 17 were gathering intelligence on behalf of the KMT around the time of the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989.
He alleged that because of a mistake on the KMT’s part, the sources were betrayed to the Chinese Ministry of State Security and the 17 men were arrested and received sentences ranging from three to 18 years in prison.
The Taipei District Court had ruled against the KMT in March last year. According to the district court, in 1987, Tang, who was living in Japan, approached the KMT’s office there and said he could help the party recruit sources to spy for it.
Tang said he took care of the 17 men after they were released from prison and sought to obtain compensation from the KMT on their behalf. He filed a complaint asking for US$3.1 million (NT$90.8 million) in compensation.
The Taipei District Court said that classified documents it seized from the KMT’s Central Committee showed that the party did commission the 17 men, and ordered the KMT to pay US$2.8 million in compensation.
However, the High Court ruling said the documents provided by Tang were all private papers and had not been authenticated under the Act Governing the Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the People of the Mainland Area (兩岸人民關係條例).
As the 17 men were all released after serving their sentences, the veracity of the claims was doubtful, it said.
The court also said there was not enough evidence to show that Tang had financially supported the 17, and therefore ruled that the KMT does not have to provide compensation.
Tang’s lawyer, Lee Han-chung (李漢中), said his client found the ruling unacceptable and would file an appeal after receiving a formal notice from the court.
The KMT said the papers that Tang holds are not official and have not been authenticated under the law. It added that if compensation were to be given, it would be due to intelligence gathered and not because the party commissioned them.
As the 17 were arrested by the Ministry of State Security, the 17 were also to blame for indiscretion, the KMT said.
Intelligence gathering on China falls under the purview of national affairs and applications for compensation for such work should be sent to the Ministry of National Defense’s Bureau of Military Intelligence, the KMT said, adding that the party had nothing to do with such matters.
The KMT also said that the deadline for asking for compensation was already past.
Translated by Jake Chung, Staff writer