The Ministry of Justice on Thursday denied that British fugitive Zain Dean would face a life-threatening situation if he returned to Taiwan, as his Taiwanese lawyer has testified.
Dean fled Taiwan in August 2012, shortly before he was due to begin serving a four-year prison sentence for manslaughter in a hit-and-run case.
In an extradition hearing held on Wednesday in Edinburgh, Scotland, Billy Chen, the lawyer who is representing Dean in the hit-and-run case, testified via video link from Taipei that there were several reasons why he did not support Dean’s extradition.
One of the reasons Chen gave to the hearing is that Dean’s life would be at risk if he was imprisoned in Taiwan. Furthermore, he said that the four-year sentence against Dean was too harsh.
Chen also told the Edinburgh court that the reporting of Taiwan’s media outlets is xenophobic and their news reports on the case were largely unfavorable to Dean.
Responding to Chen’s statements, Deputy Minister of Justice Chen Ming-tang (陳明堂) said that there are currently 461 foreign nationals in Taiwan’s correctional institutions, including British citizens, and he is not aware that the lives of any of them is being threatened.
The deputy minister said Dean had full litigation rights in the Taiwanese courts, and the sentence of four years in prison in a fatal hit-and-run case was in accordance with the nation’s laws, considering that the defendant pleaded not guilty and showed no remorse.
Dean has not paid any compensation to the victim’s family, Chen Ming-tang added.
Dean was arrested in Edinburgh on Oct. 17 last year, a day after Taiwan and the UK signed a memorandum of understanding regarding his extradition.
The three-day extradition hearing in the Scottish court is the third one this year, as Taiwan seeks to have Dean returned to serve his sentence.
The Taiwanese witnesses in the extradition hearing, including Billy Chen and one of Dean’s friends, are giving their testimony via Skype, telephone and video conferencing from the lawyer’s Taipei office.
Their testimony is to be used to help the Edinburgh court determine whether Dean was given a fair trial in Taiwan in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights.
Dean has consistently said that his conviction was a miscarriage of justice.
The decision by the Scottish court in the extradition case would be subject to appeal by either Dean or the Taiwanese authorities.
Extradition cases can generally last as long as anywhere between three months and several years.