Prosecutors indict ex-city councilor

By Wang Ting-chuan and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Thu, Dec 13, 2018 - Page 3

The New Taipei City District Prosecutors’ Office on Tuesday indicted former Democratic Progressive Party New Taipei City councilor Lin Shui-shan (林水山) for his involvement in an illegal construction project.

Lin commissioned construction of a 19,692 ping (65,097.6m2) temple in a mountainous area of Sansia District (三峽), which led to heavy soil erosion.

Lin contravened the Soil and Water Conservation Act (水土保持法) and his failure to stop the project after the erosion was found demonstrated a lack of remorse over the environmental destruction it was causing, the office said.

The damage already caused would be difficult to repair, prosecutors said, adding that they would recommend a heavy sentence.

A portion of the land is owned by Lin’s son, Lin Hsin-lei (林欣磊), and another man also surnamed Lin, investigators said, adding that another portion is owned by Taiwan Tea Corp and the rest is public land under the jurisdiction of either the Ministry of Finance or the Forestry Bureau

All of the land used in the project was designated as “mountain slope,” meaning that any project would require the consent of all landowners, as well as a comprehensive soil and water preservation plan, they said.

Lin Shui-shan had not received the consent of the other landowners, nor did he have a plan for water and soil conservation, they added.

Work on the project started on June 12 last year and the Council of Agriculture filed a report with police 10 days later after the discovery of the soil erosion.

Police sized three excavators and sent the case to the prosecutors’ office.

Lin Shui-shan ordered work on the project to resume the following day, investigators said.

In the following months, the entire plot had been excavated and the foundation and steel frame of the temple and other structures had been built, they said, adding that a large decoration had been installed and a road was built leading to the site.

Lin Shui-shan had previously admitted fault to reporters, saying that while his approach was wrong, he was only trying to build a place to “give offerings to the gods,” investigators said.

As a former city councilor, he should be familiar with the law and administrative procedures, prosecutors said, adding that the resumption of construction work after the police action on June 22 last year showed ill intent.

“In modern society, with its strong awareness of environmental issues, such unbelievable [environmental destruction] is hard to accept,” one prosecutor said.