Lieutenant Colonel Lao Nai-cheng (勞乃成), an Apache helicopter pilot at the center of a controversy over a visit by a group of civilians on March 29 to a restricted military base in Taoyuan’s Longtan District (龍潭) housing US-made AH-64E Apache helicopters, was released yesterday morning on bail of NT$500,000 (US$15,972), as the ongoing judicial probe also subpoenaed another 12 individuals associated with the incident.
Lao is likely to face further legal action, as investigators found there were also six foreign nationals in the entourage which entered the military base.
Among the six was one Japanese man — described as the boyfriend of Lao’s sister-in-law, Chiu Ya-chi (邱雅琦) — surnamed Hirayama, and five migrant workers from Southeast Asia, who work as household maids or caregivers and were tending to the seven children in the 26-person group.
After being released on bail yesterday, Lao headed back to the 601st Air Cavalry Brigade base in Longtan. A military spokesperson said Lao has been confined to his barracks, and his movements monitored and restricted.
The prosecutors released 11 civilians, including Lee, after questioning. All 12 being questioned were also placed under exit control, to prevent them fleeing the country.
Prosecutors on Sunday went to 14 residences to seize evidence. They took computers, smartphones, cameras, USB sticks and memory cards, which might contain photographs or other recordings of their visit to the military base.
Prosecutors said Lao could be charged with taking unauthorized personnel to the restricted military area and the leaking of classified materials, and had likely breached articles in the National Security Information Protection Act (國家機密保護法), the Punishment Act of the Armed Forces (陸海空軍懲罰法) and the Vital Area Regulations (要塞堡壘地帶法).
A spokesperson said if found guilty, Lao could face a jail term of up to 10 years, and if guilty of multiple violations, the jail sentence could be up to 15 years.
In reviewing videos from the surveillance cameras at the base and other evidence, prosecutors said Lao and Lee did not register all the individuals in the group, which drove six cars to the Apache helicopter hangar area after getting past the entrance checkpoint.
“In the videos, we found the kids were running around inside the hangar as though it was an amusement park, while the adults took turns posing for pictures with the Apache helicopter,” an official from the prosecutors’ office said.
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