Taiwan and the Philippines have entered the final stage of a deal to give each other legal assistance in investigating the May shooting death of a Taiwanese fisherman by Philippine Coast Guard personnel, an official said yesterday.
“Both sides are in the final phase of the mutual legal assistance process,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Anna Kao (高安) told reporters when asked when Taiwan’s investigative report on the shooting case would be released.
However, she would not elaborate on what the final stage of the process entails. It has been almost a month since investigators from Taiwan and the Philippines wrapped up visits to each other’s countries to collect evidence related to the case.
The reciprocal visits were a vital part of the mutual legal assistance agreement.
According to the ministry, both sides have completed their reports on the May 9 attack, in which Taiwanese fishing boat Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 was fired on by personnel aboard a Philippine patrol vessel while operating in the overlapping exclusive economic zones of the two countries.
A 65-year-old fisherman named Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成) was killed in the attack.
The Philippine report, compiled by the National Bureau of Investigation, has been sent to Philippine President Benigno Aquino III and is awaiting his approval.
Once the Philippine president approves the report, the Philippines will share their results with Taiwan, and Taiwan will also share the results of its report with the Philippines, a Taiwanese diplomatic source said.
The Philippines has also agreed to inform Taiwan of when it will release its report, the source said.
The Taiwanese investigation found that the Philippine Coast Guard personnel who fired the fatal shots at Hung could be charged with “intentional killing,” sources close to the Taiwanese probe said last month.
Philippine Secretary of Justice Leila de Lima also confirmed that criminal and administrative charges have been recommended against those involved in the shooting, but she did not disclose what the suggested charges were.