The High Court yesterday overturned a lower court’s ruling and found seven Sunflower movement figures, including Dennis Wei (魏揚), Yoshi Liu (劉敬文) and Chen Ting-hao (陳廷豪), guilty of inciting people to storm the Executive Yuan on March 23, 2014, resulting in their forceful eviction by police.
The seven were among 10 defendants, out of group of 21 tried by the Taipei District Court over the storming of the Executive Yuan, who were acquitted on April 10, 2017, of inciting others to commit a crime and theft in the first ruling.
The 11 other defendants were found guilty — eight of obstructing official business and three of damaging public property — and were sentenced to three to five months in prison.
The High Court, in the second ruling on the case, sentenced Wei, Liu, Chen and the other four to between two and four months in prison, and it upheld the convictions of 10 of the others.
Huang Mao-chi (黃茂吉), who had been sentenced to five months, did not appeal the lower court's verdict.
All of the sentences in yesterday’s ruling can be commuted to a fine, usually at a rate of NT$1,000 to NT$2,000 per day. They can also still be appealed.
“Wei and other people wrote messages and urged people to emulate the occupation of the Legislative Yuan at the time by occupying the Executive Yuan. In objective and subjective considerations, they intended to incite others to commit crime,” the High Court said in its ruling.
“As we are a democratic nation governed by the rule of law ... if there were major flaws in Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] members submitting the bill for the cross-strait service trade agreement [CSSTA], disputes could be mediated through cross-party negotiation in the legislature, or [through a] request for a constitutional interpretation, if [it was] found to have breached the Constitution,” the statement said.
“If the above were unable to resolve the dispute, our nation also has democratic elections for people to elect the president and legislators, [and] for redressing or amending the CSSTA. Therefore, the actions of Wei and the others were not ‘the last resort,’ and as other options were available, they should not have undertaken such actions to seek support” from the public, it said.
Then-premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺), who ordered police to use force to evict the protesters, during which many sustained injuries, lauded the ruling.
“Justice is usually delayed, but it will come eventually,” he said.
“The Executive Yuan’s occupation was not a peaceful protest, and the Sunflower movement was not a civil disobedience movement,” Jiang said. “Only after the heated emotions during the movement have receded can the courts gradually shed light on the events and make deliberations in a level-headed manner.”
Wei condemned the ruling, saying: “The ruling shows that the prosecutors and judges viewed them [protesters] as people who cannot think for themselves, as mobs following a crowd’s actions. This decision insults everyone who participated in the action that night. It is an insult not only against us seven, but the tens of thousands of Taiwanese who took part in the Sunflower movement.”
Independent Legislator Freddy Lim (林昶佐) said “premier Jiang at the time ordered police to use violent means to remove the protesters, many of whom were beaten up... One person who was assaulted and was injured later tragically died of his injuries. However, the officers who assaulted the protesters ... cannot be found to this day.”
This story has been corrected since it was first published to show that seven defendants, not three, were found guilty in the second ruling.
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