The Taipei District Court yesterday approved a motion to preserve evidence in relation to a complaint by high-school science teacher Lin Ming-hui (林明慧), who said he was beaten up by the police on March 23 during the eviction of a crowd outside the Executive Yuan building.
The court ordered the National Police Agency and the Taipei City Police Department to, within the next five days, hand over two separate portions of evidence that the police had gathered over the incident on March 23 and the following morning.
According to the court, the first portion concerns videotape evidence — covering the period from 7pm on March 23 to 6am on March 24 — from surveillance cameras on streets around the Executive Yuan complex. It also includes video recordings made by the police during their forced eviction of the protesters.
The second portion concerns police agency records and documents for the same timeframe during the action. This is said to include police log books, record-keeping of duties assigned to officers, manpower assignments and coordination of the eviction operation, the division of areas of responsibility by the different police agencies, records made of protester activity and pre-mission instructions.
According to the court, there are at least 145 CDs containing at least 800 hours of video pertaining to the motion.
The record books and other documents are located at various police agencies and departments, which could make them difficult to verify and photocopy in full, the court said, which led it to deny a request filed by Lin for “evidence preservation on site,” and limit the order to videotapes and logbooks.
The Judicial Reform Foundation hailed the court’s decision at a press briefing later yesterday, during which lawyer Wellington Koo (顧立雄) urged the police to comply.
“I warn the police not to defy the law. If any police officer tries to destroy the evidence or produce false evidence, I will pursue the matter to the full extent of the law,” Koo said.
Yu Po-hsiang (尤伯祥), another lawyer at the foundation, hailed it as a historical decision.
“It is a first time for the court to adjudicate that police must preserve evidence and hand it over in an investigation of state violence against people,” Yu said. “This decision should be remembered.”