Fishing crew off to Manila to testify over Hung’s death

Staff writer, with CNA

Tue, Sep 03, 2013 - Page 3

The three surviving crew members of a Taiwanese fishing boat attacked by Philippine Coast Guard personnel in May will head to Manila on Monday to testify in the case, to a family member of the fisherman killed in the incident said.

The trio will be accompanied by officials from the ministries of foreign affairs and justice, as well as their lawyers, said Hung Tzu-chien (洪慈綪), daughter of the deceased fisherman, Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成).

The crew members summoned to testify on the May 9 shooting are Hung Yu-chih (洪育智), skipper of the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 and son of the dead fisherman, as well as Hung Chieh-shang (洪石成), the victim’s son-in-law, and Imam Buchaeri, an Indonesian crewman.

“They are scheduled to depart for Manila on Sept. 9 to attend a hearing that day,” Hung Tzu-chien said.

Philippine prosecutors signed subpoenas on Aug. 23 asking the three survivors to testify at the Office of the Prosecutor General of the Department of Justice, a Central News Agency report from Manila said over the weekend.

The hearing is aimed at equipping Philippine prosecutors with direct evidence needed to bring charges against the Filipino coast guard personnel who fired the fatal shots at the 65-year-old Taiwanese fisherman, Deputy Minister of Justice Chen Ming-tang (陳明堂) said.

Chen said a day earlier that the subpoena was made possible in line with a bilateral agreement to offer mutual assistance in investigating the shooting incident.

Taiwan and the Philippines both opened investigations into the shooting and, after concluding their investigations, Philippine investigators on Aug. 7 recommended homicide charges against eight Filipino coast guard officers involved in the shooting.

Prosecutors from Pingtung County, where the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 is based, have formally charged the eight Filipino coast guard officers with homicide.

The fatal shooting strained bilateral ties, with Taiwan imposing sanctions on the Philippines, including a hiring freeze on Filipino workers that it did not lift until Aug. 8.

Relations between Taiwan and the Philippines returned to normal after the Philippines formally apologized for the incident and agreed on a compensation package with the Hung family.