A decision by the Cabinet to lift a detention order for two crew members of the Greek-registered MV Amorgos was announced yesterday, ending their seven months in custody.
Captain Evangelos Lazardis and chief engineer Vasileios Sardis, expressed their gratitude through the Taiwan Association for Human Rights (
"They said they felt happy upon hearing the news," Wu Jia-zhen (
Wu added that the association is also glad to see the happy ending.
The association filed a petition for the immediate release of the detainees on July 25, arguing that the detention was in violation of the crew members' human rights.
The two men were ordered not to leave Taiwan under the Marine Pollution Control Act after the Amorgos spilled roughly 1,150 tonnes of fuel oil into waters near Kenting National Park.
The worst oil spill in Taiwan since 1977, the incident polluted the coastal environment of Lungkeng Ecological Preserve (
Some 60,000 tonnes of iron ore also sank into the sea after the wreckage was hit by several typhoons.
The detention of the two men was complicated by diplomatic pressure from Greek officials and the international community.
In response to that pressure and to the rights association's petition, Secretary-General of the Cabinet Chiou I-jen (邱義仁) convened a cross-agency meeting on the matter yesterday.
Officials from the ministries of foreign affairs, the transportation and communications, justice and the Environmental Protection Administration agreed to lift the detention order.
However, both the detainees and the Nissos Amorgos Shipping Corp, the owner of the wreck, were required to sign a letter of undertaking as a condition for the crewmen's release.
The letter ensures that they will assume responsibility under Taiwan's laws and offer assistance to the nation's judiciary.
After receiving the signed letter, the Cabinet yesterday sent official documents to both the Hualien Harbor Bureau and the Bureau of Immigration to lift the detention order.
The environmental administration officials said the Cabinet's decision was acceptable.
"Since the investigation on the detainees' criminal responsibility and maritime responsibility for the wreck is over, we don't need them to remain here," said Chang Juu-en (
"They are now obligated to return here should Taiwan need them during a future investigation," Chang said.
Administration officials said that the letter signed by the two crew and the shipping company would be presented in an international tribunal in the future as evidence of their involvement in the oil spill.
The administration has authorized a Norwegian law firm to investigate the spill and will consider filing a lawsuit in Norway.
Administration officials, however, yesterday stressed that the compensation issue would be discussed continuously with both the shipping company and its insurance company.
They said that the shore cleanup costs and related personnel expenses had already reached NT$90 million.
"The total loss is still not known because we are still estimating the amount of loss to ecological and fishery resources," said Lin Chien-hui (林建輝), a senior specialist at the administration's Bureau of Water Quality Protection.
Charles Shih (
There was a net reduction last year in the number of Taipei residents and this year is expected to set a 23-year high for population decline in the city, Ministry of the Interior statistics released yesterday showed. From January to last month, 18,861 more people moved out of Taipei than moved into the capital, an increase of 7,000 from the same period last year, the data showed. That is a 7.2 percent decrease in the city’s population since the start of the year, the biggest drop in both percentage and total number among all municipalities and counties nationwide, the data showed. The data
COUNCILS CLASH: The Mainland Affairs Council said a new office in Hong Kong is to assist people with issues related to investment, study and employment in Taiwan The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) yesterday denied an accusation by the Hong Kong-Taiwan Economic and Cultural Co-operation and Promotion Council that its Taiwanese counterpart in the territory was “interfering with Hong Kong’s internal affairs.” The Hong Kong council leveled the accusation after Taipei’s Taiwan-Hong Kong Economic and Cultural Co-operation Council this month announced it would establish a Taiwan-Hong Kong Services and Exchanges Office to facilitate humanitarian aid for Hong Kongers. The new office is scheduled to begin operations on Wednesday. The MAC yesterday asked the Hong Kong council to “not misinterpret” the government’s intentions. The two Taiwan-Hong Kong councils were established in 2010 to
IRRESPONSIBLE ATTITUDES? Some experts say the NHI system does not do enough to educate the public, or pay doctors to talk to patients, about healthy lifestyles While the life expectancy of Taiwanese newborns in 2018 reached 80.69 years, the number of years people spent in poor health hit a record high at 8.41 years, Ministry of Health and Welfare statistics showed on Saturday. Healthy life expectancy is calculated by a person’s life expectancy minus the time they spend in ill health, such as the loss of mobility, disabilities and chronic disease, based on medical records and calculations about the years they live with disabilities. The number of years that Taiwanese spend in poor health is increasing slowly, but steadily, rising by 0.46 years, or five-and-a-half months, between 2012
FORCED LABOR: Customs officials have seized a 11.8 tonne shipment of products made from human hair on suspicion they were produced by people facing human rights abuses Federal authorities in New York City on Wednesday seized a shipment of weaves and other beauty accessories suspected to be made out of human hair taken from people locked inside a Chinese internment camp. US Customs and Border Protection (CPB) officials said that 11.8 tonnes of hair products worth an estimated US$800,000 were in the shipment. “The production of these goods constitutes a very serious human rights violation, and the detention order is intended to send a clear and direct message to all entities seeking to do business with the United States that illicit and inhumane practices will not be tolerated in