Fri, Nov 07, 2014 - Page 4 News List

Taiwan News Quick Take

Staff writer, with CNA


Drug smuggler gets life

A Belgian man convicted of smuggling drugs into the nation was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Taipei District Court yesterday. Gunther Van Eester was found guilty of entering Taiwan in July with 1.3kg of heroin hidden in a compartment in his suitcase. The Belgian, who was jobless and homeless in Thailand, had been flagged by Taiwanese investigators after he visited Taiwan twice in June as a tourist, the district court said in its ruling. After his two short visits, Van Eester returned to Bangkok and met with drug dealers, who offered him US$700 and a free return ticket to carry a suitcase to Taiwan, the court said. On arrival in Taiwan, he was detained by the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office, who found NT$10 million (US$327,000) worth of heroin in his suitcase, according to the court. Van Eester claimed that he was helping to deliver a suitcase of clothing, the court said in its ruling, which imposed a sentence of life imprisonment on the man. Van Eester has the right to appeal the sentence in Taiwan’s High Court.


US watching oil probe

The US is closely watching the ongoing investigation into problematic oils used in food products in Taiwan, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) said yesterday — the same day that Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) announced the latest on the government’s investigation. “We are watching the ongoing investigation with interest and encourage Taiwan authorities to act appropriately,” AIT spokesman Mark Zimmer said when asked about the issue. “Taiwan authorities have alerted the US to potentially contaminated exports and the US food safety offices will act according to our regulations,” he said. Meanwhile, he said that the US would like to work with Taiwan “in strengthening Taiwan’s food safety regime to ensure it provides information that is transparent and accurate, allowing Taiwan consumers to make informed choices about which foods they want to put into their bodies.” However, Zimmer did not elaborate on how the two nations could cooperate on the issue. He also said that the current food safety challenges in Taiwan do not stem from food products imported from the US.


Berlin Wall remembered

The German Institute Taipei yesterday held a series of events to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall 25 years ago and highlight the values of democracy. Institute Director-General Martin Eberts also gave a personal account of the lead-up to the pulling down of the Berlin Wall that in turn, led to the fall of communism in Central and Eastern Europe. Eberts said he was on diplomatic duty in Budapest, Hungary, in the summer of 1989 and witnessed the stream of East German refugees who flooded the embassy there each day. “To experience the first opening of the ‘Iron Curtain’ was an unforgettable and deeply moving experience for me,” he said. In a prelude to a discussion on democracy, the institute also screened a film titled Liberty Train-Next Stop Freedom, a documentary about the mass escape of East German citizens into the West German Embassy in Prague. About 100 people attended the screening, including representatives from the Czech Economic and Cultural Office and the Hungarian Trade Office, who said it was a great occasion for different cultures to share their histories.

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