Minister of the Interior Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) yesterday apologized for what he called the lack of political sensitivity by police officers upon the return to Taiwan of a high-profile fugitive on Saturday and said the Ministry of the Interior would seek to do better in future.
The Ministry of Justice said yesterday that the entire process surrounding the arrest of Chang An-le (張安樂) on Saturday was “an outright humiliation for the judicial authorities.”
Born in 1948, former Bamboo Union leader Chang — nicknamed the “White Wolf” — was one of the nation’s 10 most-wanted fugitives. He escaped to China just before the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office listed him as a wanted person for violating the Organized Crime Prevention Act (組織犯罪防制條例) in 1996 and had not returned since.
A report in the Chinese-language United Daily News said judges at the Taipei District Court criticized the police’s handling of Chang’s arrest at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) on Saturday. It said that allowing Chang to cover his handcuffs with a pamphlet and to meet with reporters was “shaming to the judicial authorities.”
Chang covered his handcuffs with a pamphlet titled Peaceful Reunification, One Country Two Systems (和平統一，一國兩制) and said to police officers: “Didn’t we agree on this?” when they tried to take the pamphlet away.
Lee said yesterday that it was customary for police officers to allow criminals to cover their cuffs with either a jacket or a large envelope, and while police officers might not have read the cover of the pamphlet, it still demonstrated a lack of political sensitivity.
The report quoted Criminal Investigation Bureau officials as saying that police officers had attempted to take away the pamphlet, but due to Chang’s comments and refusal to let them, they had decided to allow him to keep it so that they could escort him to the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office as quickly as possible.
Commenting on reporters’ interpretation of Chang’s comments that he had done a deal with the bureau, bureau officials said that if there had been such a deal the altercation would not have occurred, the report said.
Bureau officials said they had only agreed that Chang could cover his cuffs with some sort of book, the report said.
Chang might have had some kind of deal with the Chinese Public Security Bureau with regards to his travel arrangements, Lee said, but Taiwanese police never made any deal with Chang on what he could or could not do once he landed in Taiwan.
Commenting on Chang’s quick release — he had only been in custody a total of four hours after landing at the airport — Lee said the ministry had done everything within its jurisdiction.
Police officers had arrested Chang when he landed, took all the necessary precautions against certain members or factions of gangs, and escorted Chang to the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office, Lee said.
The ministry respected the judicial authorities decision to release Change on bail, Lee said, adding that the ministry had done everything in its power.
Chang was released on NT$1 million (US$34,100) bail and he is not allowed to leave the country.
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