A team of Philippine investigators looking into the fatal shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman by Philippine Coast Guard personnel arrived in Pingtung County yesterday and questioned witnesses in the case through local prosecutors.
The Philippine investigators asked their questions through prosecutors from the Pingtung District Prosecutors’ Office because Taiwan refused to allow the investigators to question the witnesses directly as a matter of judicial sovereignty.
The team arrived at noon yesterday and met with Pingtung prosecutors before reviewing evidence related to the May 9 shooting.
In a reciprocal legal assistance arrangement, Taiwanese investigators in the Philippines will also go through the same indirect process to question Philippine law enforcement personnel who may be involved in the shooting.
The process in Pingtung was expected to last four or five hours, Pingtung District Prosecutors’ Office spokesman Hsieh Chih-ming (謝志明) said.
In addition to taking testimony from the three fishermen who survived the May 9 attack and Hung Tzu-chien (洪慈綪), the daughter of the deceased fisherman, Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成), Pingtung prosecutors will also share with the Philippine team information such as the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28’s voyage data recorder, as well as forensic and ballistic data on the bullets retrieved from the boat.
However, Hsieh refused to reveal the focus of the questioning and the main issues of interest to the Philippine team, citing a bilateral agreement of confidentiality.
The eight-member Philippine team, led by Daniel Deganzo, head of the Philippine National Bureau of Investigation’s (NBI) foreign liaison office, arrived in Taipei on Monday, after the two nations reached an agreement on Sunday on launching parallel investigations with the provision of mutual legal assistance
The Philippine team is scheduled to inspect today the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28, which the Ministry of Justice said was hit by 45 bullets fired by Philippine Coast Guard personnel.
Meanwhile, Taiwanese investigators visited the NBI office in Manila yesterday to finalize the list of people they want to question in connection with the case.
Taiwanese investigators met with Manila Economic and Cultural Office Chairman Amadeo Perez at the NBI office on their second day in the Philippines and the two sides discussed a list of individuals that Taiwan hoped the Philippines would make available for questioning in the incident.
Taiwanese investigators were also expected to examine the MCS 3001 patrol ship involved in the incident.
Taiwanese investigators on Monday test-fired 15 firearms used by those on board the Philippine patrol vessel and obtained the written statements of the people on the vessel at the time and related firearms examination reports.
They are today scheduled to examine a video recording of the incident filmed by the Philippine government vessel and question individuals connected to the case, hoping to learn more about how many people fired shots and who fired first.