Taiwan High Court upholds acquittal of DPP’s Lin Tai-hua

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Jan 13, 2018 - Page 3

The Taiwan High Court yesterday upheld a ruling acquitting Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lin Tai-hua (林岱樺) of all charges in a case involving freedom of the press and the need of reporters to enter the legislature to cover the news during the 2014 Sunflower movement.

Prosecutors indicted Lin on offenses of obstructing police officers in discharge of their duties when an officer surnamed Lee (李) tried to stop her from taking a reporter and a photojournalist from the Yomiuri Shimbun into the legislative chamber, which Sunflower movement protesters were occupying.

The police officer tried to prevent the photojournalist from entering the chamber because he only had a “temporary media pass,” while the reporter had a valid media pass for the legislature, Lin said.

Lin argued with the police officer, with witnesses saying some pushing and shoving occurred following a verbal argument.

Lin allegedly threw two punches at Lee, while Lin alleged that the police officer hit her first.

In a 2016 Taipei District Court ruling, the judges cited the legislature’s regulations that allow reporters with valid legislature media passes to gain access to the chamber, but those with a “temporary media pass” issued the same day cannot enter the chamber.

“However, during the Sunflower movement, the legislature relaxed the requirements and permitted legislators to take reporters into the legislative chamber,” the ruling said.

During the trial, Lin said that the DPP caucus had reached a decision to “protect the students” and “protect the freedom of the press and the right of reporters to cover the news,” and therefore what she did was part of her legislative duties, which she added “were under the autonomy of the legislature and it was wrong for the judiciary to take up the case.”

In yesterday’s ruling, the Taiwan High Court concurred with the Taipei District Court’s ruling in May 2016 that Lin was not obstructing a police officer from discharging her duties, but she was following the DPP caucus’ instructions to protect the students and assist members of the media covering the news.

The judges acquitted Lin because she did not intend to obstruct the police officer and the altercation occurred because the officer tried to stop Lin and the reporters entering the legislative chamber.

The ruling was final.