Taoyuan prosecutors yesterday confirmed that four of the 20 people who made a controversial visit to a restricted military base housing US-made AH-64 attack helicopters last Sunday had left the country, as they put the 13 adults in the group under exit control.
The four are: Jerry Chiu (邱泰翰), a brother-in-law of the “tour leader,” Lieutenant Colonel Lao Nai-cheng (勞乃成), Chiu’s wife, Joanna Wang (王君怡), who left for the US on Tuesday; Chiu Po-han (邱柏翰), another brother-in-law of Lao’s, who flew to Hong Kong on Friday; and Lao’s friend Lai Pei-chen (賴佩珍), who headed to Japan on Thursday, according to the Taoyuan District Prosecutors’ Office.
Lao arranged for the group, including seven children, to visit the 601st Air Cavalry Brigade base in Taoyuan’s Longtan District (龍潭), which came to light after celebrity Janet Lee (李蒨蓉) on Thursday posted photographs on Facebook of her and her husband sitting in the cockpit of a helicopter.
Prosecutors said the four people might have gone abroad on vacation during the Tomb Sweeping holiday, but they identified the 13 people for exit control for caution’s sake after they confirmed their departure.
Subpoenas for the 13 people are to be issued as early as this week in an investigation into the security breach, prosecutors said, urging the four to return to Taiwan.
An on-the-spot investigation was conducted yesterday by a group of investigators led by prosecutor Kang Hui-lung (康惠龍), who also made a backup copy of the surveillance footage recorded that day and questioned two military staffers who managed the surveillance system.
Top brass from Army Command Headquarters at a news conference on Friday announced severe punitive measures against Lao and four other officers for their roles in granting the group the special privilege, one day after its decision to give Lao three reprimands for the case aroused a public outcry.
Minister of National Defense Kao Kuang-chi (高廣圻) and National Security Bureau Director-General Lee Shying-jow (李翔宙) are to be present at a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee on Thursday to report to lawmakers about the case.
Lawmakers sitting on the committee initially planned to inspect Taichung Veterans General Hospital and the military base in Taichung on Wednesday and Thursday as scheduled by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chan Kai-chen (詹凱臣), the rotating chair of the committee this week.
However, Chan yesterday said he would schedule a question-and-answer session with Kao, Lee and related military officials instead.
The change of agenda came after Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) accused the ministry of disappointing the public by giving a lenient punishment to Lao over what appeared to be a serious lapse in military discipline.
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