The chief of a police station in Greater Kaohsiung has brought charges against more than 300 netizens for leaving insulting comments about him on a Facebook posting by a young couple who accused him of wrongfully issuing them a traffic fine.
The young man, surnamed Chen (陳), and his girlfriend, surnamed Liu (劉), are also on the long list of defendants in the case, which could mark the largest number of people sued by a law enforcement officer in the nation’s history if it goes to trial.
On July 28, Chen and Liu were riding on his modified motorcycle when they were pulled over by two police officers from the Jhongjheng Third Road Police Station at the intersection of Wufu First Road and Fujian Street in Sinsing District (新興).
They were issued a NT$900 fine for operating a vehicle with modified headlights.
Liu took to Facebook to vent her anger, accusing Jhongjheng Third Road Police Station Chief Hou Ling-kuo (侯令國) of being “inhumane” by ticketing them when they were on their way to a funeral home “to see Chen’s just-deceased grandmother one last time.”
Liu added that Hou was “really condescending” and that she hoped he could “live a long life” and would “treat himself to a nice meal with the reward money he received for handing out the ticket.”
The post quickly attracted 50,000 likes, with more than 300 netizens leaving comments insulting Hou.
However, police recordings of the ticketing process showed that Hou was not even at the scene and that the ticket was actually issued by Sergeant Huang Chien-min (黃堅民) and police officer Lee Yu-hung (李宥宏), police said.
Police added that the recordings also showed Chen snarling at the two officers.
Judging from the direction the couple was heading at the time, police said it was unlikely they were going to a funeral home, adding that they might have lied about their destination to seek netizens’ sympathy.
In an effort to put a “stop to the Internet culture of blind following,” Hou decided to take legal action against the couple and those who slandered him without knowing what had really happened.
According to the police, Liu first tried to defend her Facebook comment by citing a stamp of Hou’s name on the violation ticket, accusing the police of “setting a trap” for her and her boyfriend and demanding an apology.
After learning that Hou had pressed charges against them, the couple apologized, saying they had thought Hou was the one who issued the ticket and that they did not mean to offend him, police said.
The police added that they plan to bring more defendants in for questioning in the next few days.