Mon, May 14, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Court responds to claims of drug sentencing error

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

The Kaohsiung District Court defended its ruling against two men who had been found guilty of smuggling chemicals used in the production of ketamine, after its verdict was deemed too lenient and was claimed to be caused by a mix-up involving the weight of the seized material.

Kaohsiung police and coast guards in March last year intercepted a fishing vessel carrying 1.1 tonnes of contraband cargo.

The cargo contained 782kg of hydroxylamine hydrochloride, which was placed in 45 sacks labeled as animal feed, investigators found.

The court sentenced the two men operating the vessel, Chang Ching-lung (張慶龍) and Yang Cheng-chin (楊政錦), to five years and 10 months, and four years, respectively.

Chang and Yang testified that they were asked by a man named Hsu Li-fa (許利發) to transport the cargo, which originated in China.

They said that Hsu promised them NT$1 million (US$33,587) to deliver it to Kaohsiung.

Authorities intercepted them near the Penghu islands.

The men were convicted for contravening the Narcotics Hazard Prevention Act (毒品危害防制條例), which classifies hydroxylamine hydrochloride as a Category 4 substance.

The case was appealed to the Kaohsiung branch of the High Court, after which news reports said the case documents indicated that the district court’s sentencing was based on 419.28g of hydroxylamine hydrochloride, the amount sampled and sent for lab analysis, instead of the actual 782kg found.

The district court yesterday released a statement to clarify the matter and maintained that there was no mix-up

The 419.28g was a mistake made by a court clerk when transcribing the report for the first ruling, it said.

Chang’s and Yang’s sentences were based on the total 782kg of cargo seized, and were given because the two suspects had admitted their crimes and had cooperated with the authorities, it said.

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