Student activist Chen Wei-ting (陳為廷) was found guilty yesterday of tossing a shoe at Miaoli County Commissioner Liu Cheng-hung (劉政鴻) in a protest last year and fined NT$10,000 (US$333) by the Miaoli District Court.
In September last year during a protest against Liu over the county government’s seizure and demolition of private homes in Dapu District (大埔), Chen tossed a shoe at Liu as he tried to stop the commissioner from entering the venue of a memorial service for Chang Sen-wen (張森文).
Chang’s home had been torn down by the county government. He was found dead in an irrigation channel a month after the forced demolition. It remains unclear whether Chang was murdered or committed suicide.
Photo: Chang Hsun-teng, Taipei Times
“I don’t think it’s a fair ruling, because Chen tossed the shoe at Liu to stop him from entering the venue for the memorial service, after Chang’s family stated clearly that Liu was not welcome, but he ignored it and still tried to go inside,” Lee Huan-yi (李宣毅), the attorney representing Chen in court, said outside the courthouse immediately following the verdict. “It was actually Liu who tried to force entry into a private home and interrupt a memorial service first; we therefore consider what Chen did as self-defense under the authorization of Chang’s family.”
“We regret that the judge was not convinced, and we will certainly appeal,” Lee added.
According to the written verdict, shoes are generally considered “unclean,” and therefore it would be a humiliation that causes harm to Liu’s dignity to get hit in the face by a shoe thrown by someone.
Chang’s widow, Peng Hsiu-chun (彭秀春), also showed up at the press conference to support Chen and the other activists.
“We never invited Liu to the memorial service and rejected his request to come to pay respects to my husband. We were actually quite upset when he tried to force his way into the building, escorted by the police,” Peng said. “If he didn’t insist, then nothing would have happened.”
In another case, the court acquitted Chen and six others who were said to be involved in an egg-throwing demonstration outside the Miaoli County Hall in August last year.
The court acquitted the seven defendants of humiliating a government office and violation of the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法) for a rally outside the county hall that ended with the crowd throwing more than 3,000 eggs at the county hall building, while wounding three police officers.
The court said the egg-throwing occurred after 10pm, when the county hall was already empty, and therefore it caused no humiliation to any county officials.
It added that, since the rally ended peacefully soon afterward, it did not constitute a violation of the Assembly and Parade Act.
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