The Taipei District Court yesterday released student activist Dennis Wei (魏揚) without bail, after prosecutors accused him of having led a protest that escalated into the storming of the Executive Yuan building in Taipei on Sunday night.
Wei, a graduate student at National Tsing Hua University’s Institute of Sociology, walked out of the courtroom at 12:20pm to the cheers of his family and supporters, before tearfully hugging his mother.
The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office said Wei has been charged with violating Article 150 of the Criminal Code — inciting people in an open assembly to employ threats or violence — which could see him face between one and seven years in prison if found guilty.
He was also charged with obstructing an officer in the performance of their duties; destruction, abandonment and damage of property; breaking and entering; and with violating the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act (文化資產保存法), among other counts, the office said.
According to the district court’s ruling, Wei posted a message on Facebook at 9pm on Sunday calling for students to join the occupation of the Executive Yuan — two hours after the siege had begun — which indicated that he did not play a leading role in inciting protesters to occupy the complex.
The ruling added that several students arrested and under investigation have said in their statements that Wei’s posting did not incite them to storm the Executive Yuan.
Video footage shows Wei speaking to protesters on a microphone during the siege, but the court ruled that his presence at the site does not prove that he broke into the complex and damaged property.
Wei said in a statement yesterday that he did not mastermind the occupation of the Executive Yuan.
“I arrived in Taipei from Hsinchu City by bus at about 8pm and was preparing to go back to the Legislative Yuan sit-in, but upon learning on Facebook that the Executive Yuan had been occupied by students, I decided to go to the Executive Yuan and arrived there after 8pm,” the statement said.
Wei said he asked the other students if he could him help lead the protest, while urging the protesters to remain calm and not break into any offices.
Turning to Premier Jiang Yi-huah’s (江宜樺) remarks that police only “carried protesters away or tapped them on the shoulder and asked them to leave,” Wei said he saw officers attack protesters with sticks and shields.
“Any bloodshed that took place during the violent eviction must be taken up with the officer in charge of the operation and with President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九),” he added.