The man suspected of ramming an empty gravel truck into the Presidential Office Building on Jan. 25 was indicted yesterday on charges of attempted murder and four other counts, including causing damage to a historic building.
Taipei prosecutors asked the Taipei District Court to impose a stiff sentence on Chang Te-cheng (張德正), saying his attempts to rationalize the reported act showed a “total lack of remorse.”
The incident was the most serious breach of security at the Presidential Office Building in years. It is not thought to have been politically motivated.
Taipei resident Chang, 41, had complained about the judicial system on the Internet after he was detained for 40 days in 2011 in a domestic violence case.
According to prosecutors, Chang, who holds a college degree, was intellectually capable of knowing that legal recourse for his grievance was available, but had instead intentionally “attacked” the building to vent his anger.
Chang allegedly scoped the area around the building twice in January before the incident.
In addition to criminal charges, the Presidential Office on Feb. 5 filed a criminal lawsuit accusing Chang of damaging the building and is also seeking compensation in a civil lawsuit to cover the more than NT$3 million (US$98,972) spent on repairs.
On Jan. 25, Chang drove a 35-tonne truck past barriers and up the front steps of the building, crashing into a bulletproof gate put in place by a quick-thinking guard, according to the charge sheet.
Chang was found unconscious in the driver’s seat by military police. He was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment for several broken bones. He has since been released on bail.
At the time, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was on a state visit to Sao Tome and Principe, two of Taiwan's diplomatic allies.
Responding on Facebook to Chang's characterization by prosecutors, Tseng Wei-kai (曾威凱), the suspect's lawyer, wrote: “You should not take it seriously when prosecutors say that you have the right to remain silent, or it could be seen as ‘total lack of remorse.’”
Tseng said it could be presumed that his client thought his alleged attempt to crash a truck into the Presidential Office Building would be suicidal and that it was preposterous for prosecutors to see the reported act as a failed murder attempt.
The prosecutors said Chang’s actions were premeditated and could have harmed one of the military police on duty.
“It is the same as accusing every driver who runs a red light of premeditated murder,” Tseng said.
The prosecutors should not see the defendant’s use of his right to remain silent as uncooperative, Tseng said, adding that his client answered judges’ questions when he was in court.