Former Taipei City police department commissioner Huang Sheng-yung (黃昇勇) was acquitted yesterday over his role in a bloody crackdown to disperse protesters during the 2014 Sunflower movement, but lawmakers and victims vowed they would appeal, and said the decision condoned “state violence.”
The Taipei District Court, cleared Huang of attempted homicide and actions causing bodily harm, among other offenses, on the grounds that he was performing his professional duty and upholding the law.
The judges based their decision on Article 21, Item 1 of the Criminal Code, which states that “conduct performed in accordance with the law or order is not punishable.”
Photo: Chang We-chuan, Taipei Times
Huang instructed the riot police to remove the demonstrators who took part in the occupation of the Executive Yuan compound from the evening of March 23, 2014, to the early hours of the next morning, which he was reportedly ordered to do by then-premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) and then-National Police Agency (NPA) director-general Wang Cho-chiun (王卓鈞).
Many protesters were injured, some seriously, as NPA officers in riot gear, wielding batons and shields, removed the crowd.
Forty-two people injured by police, including then-Taiwan Solidarity Union legislator Chou Ni-an (周倪安), filed a class-action lawsuit against top officials for their roles in the incident.
After learning of the ruling, Chou said she was disappointed in the justice system, and vowed to launch an appeal.
“Violent means and excessive force were used against the sit-in protesters at the Executive Yuan … the officers did not adhere to the regulations in the Police Power Exercise Act (警察職權行使法). That was why so many people were injured that night,” Chou said.
“I saw some people who were already injured and down on the ground, crying out loud and urging the police to stop, but the police kept on bludgeoning them,” Chou said. “The police’s actions were unlawful and immoral. I cannot accept the ruling and will appeal.”
Chou was hit on the head and was hospitalized for several weeks, she said, adding that the NPA and Executive Yuan repeatedly turned down her requests to review the footage of the incident and information gathered by the police.
“The government’s administrative bureaucrats are also responsible ... as they denied us access to videotapes and important evidence, which made our lawsuit very difficult to pursue,” Chou said. “The Democratic Progressive Party government helped to cover up the case, as it did not initiate a judicial probe into the incident, while most of the police officials involved have received promotions... So where is the transitional justice in this case?”
“It has been a long and difficult road for people to pursue justice against state violence ... the court used judicial procedure and legal maneuvering to delay the process and shut out some of the plaintiffs,” the Judicial Reform Foundation said in a statement.
“We regret Huang’s acquittal, as it means he has not been held responsible for the violence on that night. We believe that the court let down the victims in this case, and has let down Taiwanese society and those who fought for freedom and democracy,” it said.
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