The Miaoli County Government yesterday announced that it would not appeal a court ruling in favor of the four families whose houses were forcefully demolished in Miaoli County’s Dapu Borough (大埔) last year.
The county government’s decision not to file an appeal before the Wednesday deadline follows that of the Ministry of the Interior, which said on Jan. 28 that it would not contest the verdict.
However, the families have said that they do plan to appeal the ruling.
“The Miaoli County Government has decided not to appeal the court’s decision out of respect for the Ministry of the Interior, which decided not to appeal right before the Lunar New Year holiday,” Miaoli County Commissioner Liu Cheng-hung (劉政鴻) said yesterday.
“However, I want to make it clear that the county government will not pay a penny to compensate the families, or help them rebuild their homes. It is impossible for us to compensate them with Miaoli taxpayers’ money, because that would be simply unacceptable,” Liu said.
Last month, the Greater Taichung High Administrative Court ruled that the ministry and county government’s complete or partial tearing down of the four homes last year was illegal because both had failed to complete the procedures required to approve forced demolitions.
However, when addressing the plaintiffs’ request that the county government return their land and rebuild their homes, the court said that such restitution may not be possible since roads and pedestrian crossings have already been constructed on some of the land where the houses once stood.
Despite welcoming the ministry’s decision not to contest the ruling, the Dapu families decided to lodge an appeal because they insist that the county government should help them rebuild their homes.
“We decided to appeal the ruling, because the part in the ruling that says it’s not possible to return the land to the families and rebuild their homes since roads and pedestrian crossings have been built is unacceptable,” said Thomas Chan (詹順貴), a pro bono attorney and rights activist representing the families.
“It’s not difficult to eliminate a pedestrian crossing and dig up the pavement to give the families their land back,” Chan said.
Responding to the families’ decision, Deputy Minister of the Interior Hsiao Chia-chi (蕭家淇) said that the ministry fully respects their right to appeal and would await the court’s decision.
“Meanwhile, I would like to let the families know that the ministry will keep its doors open for negotiations if they should want to hold talks,” Hsiao said.
The ministry has also said that it would look into how to compensate the families.