Ministries at odds over releasing joint investigation result

By Rich Chang  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 - Page 3

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) are shifting responsibility on who is to release the results of the investigations conducted by Taiwan and the Philippines into the fatal May 9 shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman by Philippine Coast Guard personnel.

The Chinese-language China Times reported yesterday that the release of the results of the joint investigation had been delayed because Manila concluded that the Filipinos used “excessive self-defense” and would charge them accordingly, while Taiwan believes they should be punished for intentional homicide.

Since the results of the two reports, as well as the charges to be filed against those responsible for the death of fisherman Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成), contain major differences, the justice ministry decided now is not the right time to release the investigation results, the Times said.

The justice ministry said it was still receiving the results of the Manila investigation through MOFA, and the results of the investigations should be released in an international press conference held by that ministry.

However, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Vanessa Shih (史亞平) said the investigation into the case was being conducted by the justice ministry and that her ministry “fully cooperates with the MOJ and respect its responsibility.”

Justice ministry officials said the Taiwanese investigation found that the Philippine Coast Guard personnel who fired the shots that killed the 65-year-old Hung should be charged with intent to kill and that the Pingtung District Prosecutors’ Office responsible for the probe would indict the Philippine suspects when the probe results are released.

On May 9, Taiwanese fishing boat Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 was shot at while operating in the overlapping exclusive economic zones of the two countries.

The shooting triggered a diplomatic row that led to Taiwan imposing a series of sanctions on the Philippines, including suspending the hiring of Filipino migrant workers in Taiwan and issuing a “red” travel alert for Taiwanese planning to visit the Philippines.

In the wake of the incident, Taiwan demanded that the Philippines issue a formal apology, compensate Hung’s family, punish those responsible for his death and begin fishery talks to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.