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4 families in Dapu case call on the MOI to drop its application for appeal

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The four Dapu households which won a court battle against the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) regarding the Ministry's decision to demolish their houses yesterday headed to the MOI and pleaded for the government to drop further applications for an appeal.

The Taichung High Administrative Court issued a judgment against the MOI on Jan. 3, ruling that the MOI must revoke the demolition orders which rocked the small village over the past two years. The four houses were already torn down on the orders of Miaoli County Magistrate Liu Cheng-hung (劉政鴻) last July, but new households must be built on the same locations or compensation must be offered, according to the court's verdict.

The court dismissed appeals by the 19 other plaintiffs in the case, as these families had accepted the government's terms offered when plans to demolish these houses were announced. Property owners were only given two options - they could accept or decline compensation based on land values as assessed by the government. The former option was chosen by the 19 families.

The MOI has yet to reach a consensus on whether it will file an appeal. According to Interior Minister Lee Hung-yuan (李鴻源), the MOI would usually file an appeal against the ruling without any further consideration in similar situations, but in this case it would “hurt people” and not be in the best interest of the public.

The minister said he cannot rely solely on the 100-word press statement released by the Taichung High Administrative Court to decide whether or not to appeal the court's ruling, while MOI Deputy Minister Hsiao Chia-chih (蕭家淇) said the ministry is currently reviewing the legal issues and considering possible compensation for the owners.

The final decision concerning the appeal will be made before the Chinese New Year, said Lee.

The four families headed to the MOI to hold a press conference yesterday, expressing their hope that the MOI would drop any appeals of the court's verdict, to which the MOI replied that it would take the residents' opinions into mind and handle the case as soon as possible.

The four families from Dapu also called for an amendment of the Land Expropriation Act. “(I hope) Minister Lee will help us and rebuild my home instead of filing for an appeal,” said Peng Hsiu-chun (彭秀春), one of the protestors. Peng's family owned the local pharmacy in Dapu, and had protested strongly against the demolition of the houses.

Peng's husband Chang Sen-wen (張文森) committed suicide after his house was torn down, the reason for his death being widely alleged to be the demolition, which happened without notice while the families were protesting in Taipei.

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