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June 29, 2017

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MOFA chief urges trial over Philippine sea shooting

TAIPEI -- Prosecutors in the Philippines should prosecute the Philippine coast guard personnel involved in the death of a Taiwanese fisherman as soon as possible, Foreign Minister David Lin said Wednesday.

Completing the prosecution of the eight coast guard officers "is a top priority issue," Lin said, adding that Taiwan currently has no plans to seek their extradition to Taiwan.

Lin's remarks came in response to questions on whether Taiwan will ask the Philippines to extradite the killers to Taiwan, following reports earlier in the day that the Pingtung District Court issued a wanted list containing the names of the eight coast guard officers in late February.

Hung Shih-cheng, a fisherman aboard the Taiwanese boat Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28, was killed last May when the Filipinos sprayed his boat with bullets in an area where the two countries' exclusive economic zones overlap.

The May 9, 2013 incident sparked anger across Taiwan, prompting the government to impose retaliatory measures, including a freeze on the hiring of Filipino workers in Taiwan, a travel alert discouraging Taiwanese nationals from visiting the Philippines and suspending most exchange activities.

In August, the Philippines finally released the result of its National Bureau of Investigation's (NBI's) inquiry into the incident, which recommended homicide charges be brought against the eight men involved in the shooting and sanctions imposed against four others for allegedly trying to tamper with the evidence.

Taiwan subsequently lifted its sanctions against the Philippines and issued a statement announcing that relations between the two countries have been normalized.

Following Hung's death, the Pingtung District Prosecutors Office also launched an investigation into the incident and filed homicide charges against the perpetrators.

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