British fugitive Zain Dean, who fled Taiwan before he was to begin serving a jail term for manslaughter in a hit-and-run accident, should pay NT$7.55 million (US$254,630) in compensation to the family of his victim, a court ruled on Wednesday.
The Taipei District Court said that the victim, a newspaper deliveryman surnamed Huang (黃), was only 31 years old when he died in the accident in March 2010. Although Dean has no assets under his name in Taiwan, he served as head of the UK-based NCL Media’s Taiwan branch, and was reportedly driving a Mercedez-Benz when the accident took place, which the court said shows that he still had substantial financial means.
The judges said that because Dean was to blame for the accident, but denied responsibility and fled Taiwan by using his friend’s passport before his scheduled incarceration, a sum of NT$7.55 million was appropriate. Huang’s family had demanded nearly NT$10 million in compensation. The case can still be appealed.
Huang’s elder sister said that “the most important thing is to find Dean’s whereabouts and bring him back to face justice.”
The Taiwan High Court sentenced Dean to four years in jail after being convicted in July last year on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol, manslaughter and committing a hit-and-run. The hit-and-run charge is being appealed.
Dean was supposed to begin his sentence last year, but fled the country on Aug. 14 last year. The authorities put Dean on the nation’s wanted list on Jan. 29.
Dean issued a statement last month in which he continued to assert his innocence, especially questioning the prosecutors’ handling of video evidence that might have shown the accident. Dean said that he would be willing to return to be retried on four conditions, including having the video evidence being presented in court and having human rights observers present at the new trial.
Taipei prosecutors flatly rejected the conditions.