Citing insufficient evidence, the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday said it has dropped charges of theft, damaging and insulting the national flag against four individuals who were accused of having destroyed 74 national flags along Aiguo W Road in Taipei on Double Ten National Day last year.
According to a prosecutors’ investigation, Chou Shih-lun (周世倫), known for directing a documentary on the Sunflower movement, Hsiao Chang-chan (蕭長展), a member of The Village Armed Youths band, and two other individuals — surnamed Hu (胡) and Lu (呂) — allegedly launched an “art event” on Oct. 9 last year to raise public awareness on the restrictions the national flag faced at international events.
Police were later informed that 74 flags along Aigwo W Road between Boai Road and Zhonghua Road Sec 1 had been slashed or damaged about 2am on Oct 9.
Police listed Chou and the other three individuals as the prime suspects after identifying Chou and others from the license plates of their scooters and a photograph of a national flag with black spray-painted words on it posted on Chou’s Facebook page.
Surveillance footage revealed a group of people had gathered on Gueilin Road in Wanhua District (萬華) before walking to Aiguo W Road, prosecutors said, adding that footage did not show any of the four slashing or stealing flags along the road.
The four denied the charges and said their plan was to highlighting how the national flag faced censure at international events, adding they were simply performing action art.
Prosecutors said there was no direct evidence that the four had damaged any flags, adding that even if they had, there were not witnesses and thus it would not be act of defamation.
The four had also settled out of court with the Taipei City Public Works Department’s Parks and Street Lights Office in relation to damaged property, the prosecutors said.
Article 106 of the Criminal Code states that public defamation of the Republic of China emblem and national flag, with intent of insulting the nation, is punishable by up to one year in prison, detainment or a fine of up to NT$300.
Additional reporting by Chen En-hui
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