Fri, Dec 22, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Search of New Party members’ homes entirely legal, Taipei prosecutors say

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Conduct by judiciary officials during Tuesday’s search of New Party Youth Corps members’ homes as part of an espionage investigation was in accordance with legal procedures, Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office spokesman Chou Shih-yu (周士榆) said yesterday.

In response to allegations of human rights violations and other criticism by New Party officials and pan-blue camp politicians, Chou convened a news conference to confirm that the searches were in connection with follow-up investigations into the activities of convicted Chinese spy Zhou Hongxu (周泓旭).

“The searches carried out at [New Party spokesman] Wang Ping-chung’s (王炳忠) residence and those of other New Party members arose from Zhou’s conviction for breaches of the National Security Act (國家安全法),” Chou said. “The case is being handled by the Taiwan High Court, which found inconsistencies during its investigation.”

“After examining seized materials and witness testimonies, prosecutors will be able to clarify those inconsistencies and whether party members broke the law,” he said.

Chou said that Wang, along with his New Party colleagues Hou Han-ting (侯漢廷), Lin Ming-cheng (林明正) and Chen Ssu-chun (陳斯俊), were subpoenaed as witnesses in Zhou’s case, and officials had clearly explained their legal rights as witnesses during questioning.

“It was also explained to them that under the Code of Criminal Procedure (刑事訴訟法), there is no provision that requires the presence of a lawyer during questioning,” Chou said.

The investigation into Wang and his colleagues was initiated by the Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau (MJIB), which coordinated the investigation with Taipei prosecutors, he said.

“MJIB officials were armed with search warrants to conduct their operation. However, Wang resisted the search and started live broadcasting the scene,” Chou said, adding that Wang’s action raises suspicions he might have been colluding with other witnesses and interfering in an investigation that should be kept confidential.

Because of Wang’s actions and due to the urgency of the case, a locksmith was called to access his home, which is in line with the Code of Criminal Procedure, Chou said.

“Throughout the process, investigators were present and kept in contact with the lead prosecutor. The prosecutor did not enter the residence to conduct a search,” Chou added.

Chou also dispelled accusations by New Party officials regarding alleged time discrepancies by providing photocopies of the search warrants and subpoenas at the news conference, which showed Taipei District Court approval was given on Dec. 11, with the search to be conducted from 6am on Dec. 18 to 5pm on Dec. 21.

Details on locations, persons and objects permitted in the search were also documented.

“During the investigation phase, searches can be conducted on suspects, defendants, as well as third persons involved in the case,” the Taipei District Court said in a statement. “The search warrants were requested by the MJIB and were issued for searches on third persons related to the case.”

The court approved the search warrants as “the evidence presented by the MJIB conformed to the regulations under the Code of Criminal Procedure,” it said, adding that it would not disclose the evidence.

This was “due to the confidentiality principle and the possibility that it involves state secrets,” the court said.

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