The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office on Friday said that it would not indict Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) over an author’s allegations of his participation in organ harvesting of Falun Gong members in China.
US author Ethan Gutmann’s 2014 book The Slaughter: Mass Killings, Organ Harvesting, and China’s Secret Solution to Its Dissident Problem suggests that Ko knew about Falun Gong members’ organs being harvested in China and that they might have been used for transplants involving Taiwanese.
“Ko was a potential conduit to Taiwanese patients,” Gutmann told a news conference on Oct. 2, 2018, adding that this created a “perverse incentive” to harvest the organs of Falun Gong members.
Brian Wu (吳祥輝), a political pundit and owner of publisher Butterfly Orchid Cultural Creativity, on Sept. 3, 2018, took out a full-page ad in the Liberty Times (sister newspaper of the Taipei Times) that featured excerpts of the firm’s Chinese-language translation of the book.
Wu said that Ko in 2008 arranged for Taiwanese patients to receive transplants in China, was aware that the organs came from Falun Gong members and had bartered with Chinese doctors on their prices.
Ko was also being paid to help China develop its organ transplant system based on Taiwan’s system, Wu said.
In October 2018, Taipei prosecutors summoned Gutmann to court, where he told the judge that, according to his understanding, Ko was “just a middleman” in the procurement of organs, not a “broker.”
Gutmann said that he could not say for certain whether Ko had taken Taiwanese patients to China, adding that Ko had not confirmed to him that he had willingly procured the organs of Falun Gong members.
Ko at the time told prosecutors that Chinese medical authorities were not interested in using Taiwan’s organ transplant system, and that he would not be able to sell them on it.
Prosecutors on Friday said in a statement that there was insufficient evidence that Ko breached provisions of the Punishment of the Crime of Genocide Act (殘害人群治罪條例) to proceed with an indictment.
Citing Ko’s testimony, prosecutors said that while Ko in April 2008 attended a heart and lung transplant summit in China’s Jiangsu Province, where he had heard that some organs in China were taken from Falun Gong members, he was unsure whether the organs were taken from living, dead or brain-dead patients.
As there was insufficient evidence that Ko intended to fully or partly eradicate a particular ethnic or religious group, he could not be indicted in terms of the act, they said.
Taipei City Government deputy spokeswoman Huang Ching-ying welcomed the prosecutors’ statement, saying that the case had caused “unwarranted turmoil and a waste of public resources” during the 2018 mayoral election.
The city government hoped that the announcement would put the public at ease over the issue, and restore confidence in Taiwan’s efforts in the area of medical transplants, she said.
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