The Ministry of Justice yesterday criticized the Investigation Bureau for “disturbing” more than 400 residents of the remote Namasiya District (那瑪夏) in Greater Kaohsiung by summoning them for interviews instead of sending investigators to Namasiya to conduct the interviews.
The Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) reported yesterday that the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors’ Office summoned more than 400 residents, mostly Aborigines, to be interviewed as witnesses in a case in which the head of the Namasiya District Office was accused of embezzling funds donated after Typhoon Morakot devastated the area in August 2009.
The newspaper said the district office should have given each resident NT$1,000 from the donation fund, but some residents did not receive the money.
The head of the district office and three other officials were released on bail in the case.
The Liberty Times said Namasiya residents complained that they had to make a roundtrip of more than 200km to meet with the investigators, spending about eight hours in the process.
The residents said some of the older and economically disadvantaged residents could not make the trip in one day, so they had to pay to stay overnight in hotels, the newspaper said.
The paper cited Ouyang Ching-hua (歐陽晶華), secretary-general of the bureau’s Kaohsiung Branch, as saying the bureau had notified the residents last month that they would have to be interviewed in the bureau’s offices because there was no recording equipment in Namasiya.
In a press statement yesterday, the ministry said the bureau’s Kaohsiung branch was responsible for the incident, not Kaohsiung prosecutors.
It said Kaohsiung prosecutors had told the bureau that prosecutors and bureau agents should go to Namasiya together to conduct the interviews, but the bureau ignored the prosecutors’ opinions.
The ministry said more than 40 people had been interviewed so far, but Kaohsiung prosecutors have informed the residents that the summonses have been canceled, and investigators will go to Namasiya to conduct the rest of the interviews.