Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) yesterday pledged to seek further legal recourse after a district court last week rejected a motion by police to fine a university student for allegedly spreading a rumor that was followed by the suicide of a diplomat in Japan in September.
“We think the ruling is extremely regrettable and unacceptable,” Wu said on the sidelines of a meeting of the Legislative Yuan’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee.
He said the ruling sent the message that people who spread false rumors would not be held accountable.
“We will engage in talks with judicial authorities and seek further legal recourse to ensure that such incidents do not occur again,” Wu said without elaborating.
The Nantou District Court on Friday dismissed charges against the student, who was accused of spreading rumors that undermined public order and peace.
In September, the student posted a message on social media that said Taiwanese were left stranded at Kansai International Airport in Japan due to flooding from Typhoon Jebi in September, while the Chinese embassy there had sent 15 tour buses to evacuate its citizens.
The post sparked criticism against Representative to Japan Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), with netizens saying he was not doing his job at a time when Taiwanese travelers most needed help, and was instead sparring with political enemies.
Su Chii-cherng (蘇啟誠), who was at the time director-general of the Osaka branch of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office — which has jurisdiction over the Kansai area, was found dead at his residence in Osaka on Sept. 14. His death was deemed to be from suicide.
It was later reported that no vehicles — other than airport shuttle buses — were allowed access to the airport amid the flooding.
The court said that police did not present enough evidence to show that the student had contravened Article 63 of the Social Order Maintenance Act (社會秩序維護法).
The act prohibits “spreading rumors in a way that is sufficient to undermine public order and peace.” Such a conviction is punishable by three days in jail or a fine of NT$30,000.
Police had been seeking permission to fine the student.
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