Tue, Jul 10, 2012 - Page 4 News List

Panel clears top avian flu scientist of wrong-doing

NO COVER-UP:Taipei prosecutors said Hsu Tien-lai had not attempted to conceal or misreport a bird flu outbreak, as was alleged by one filmmaker

By Rich Chang  /  Staff reporter

Taipei prosecutors yesterday said that they had closed an investigation into the role of former Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine director Hsu Tien-lai (許天來) in the alleged cover-up of an H5N2 avian flu outbreak that occurred in January, with prosecutors deciding not to indict Hsu.

Prosecutors said a review of Hsu’s long-term position on bird flu outbreaks showed he had been consistent and that he had insisted that his decision during the outbreak was based on his professional views.

Hsu’s decisions may not have been right, but there is no evidence to suggest that Hsu broke the law, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said former Council of Agriculture minister Chen Wu-hsiung (陳武雄), who testified in the case, stressed that everything had been conducted in line with administrative procedures.

Hsu was under investigation for irregularities in the handling of cases of H5N2 in Changhua County’s Fangyuan Township (芳苑) in 2010 and the conditions surrounding a 2010 outbreak of the virus in Greater Tainan, as well as his handling of evidence of an outbreak in Changhua County.

Hsu was sued for malfeasance and forgery by independent documentary film producer Kevin H.J. Lee (李惠仁), who had spent a long time documenting avian flu issues.

Lee alleged that Hsu concealed the January outbreak and reported the high-risk outbreak as a low-risk incident instead.

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