Ex-baseball player arrested for illegally cutting down trees

TIMBER THIEVES::Police in Greater Kaohsiung said the former baseball pro was caught transporting wood from endangered trees, whose sale is illegal

By Rich Chang  /  Staff reporter

Mon, Jan 21, 2013 - Page 3

A former baseball player was arrested on Friday and charged with chopping down endangered trees to sell their timber.

Hsu Wen-hsiung (許文雄), a former La New Bears pitcher and Beijing 2008 Olympic Games national player, was arrested on suspicion of transporting Cinnamomum kanehirae (stout camphor tree) logs from forests in Greater Kaohsiung’s Namasiya District (那瑪夏) with three other men.

Police seized five pieces of wood weighing 134kg and arrested the four men.

It is illegal to chop down or sell Cinnamomum kanehirae, an endangered species of aromatic tree endemic to Taiwan.

The Pingtung Forest District Office said it had received a report on Thursday evening of that trees were being felled illegally.

Agency workers and police officers went to the forest to investigate the claims. After searching the area for 20 hours, police said they arrested the men on Friday afternoon as they were allegedly moving the tree trunks.

Greater Kaohsiung prosecutors yesterday released the four men on bail, saying they had been charged with violating the Forest Act (森林法), which could see them being given a prison term of between six months and five years.

The 35-year-old Hsu was fired by La New Bears in 2009 because after he was implicated in a match-fixing scandal. The baseball team also filed a civil law suit against Hsu.

The Taiwan High Court’s Kaohsiung branch handed down a final verdict saying that Hsu had played in six fixed games, of which three involved illegal gambling. Hsu was made to pay the La New Bears NT$1 million (US$34,500) in compensation.

Hsu, a Namasiya resident, told investigators that he did not cut down the trees and had only helped transport the wood.

He said that he had not had a job for two months and needed to earn some money for the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday.