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June 29, 2017

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Family asks Taipei court to rule on compensation from British fugitive

TAIPEI--The family of a man who was killed by a hit-and-run driver in 2010 appeared at the Taipei District Court yesterday to ask for compensation of NT$10 million from the British businessman convicted of the crime.

The presiding judge said a ruling on the request will be handed down on Feb. 27.

The British man, Zain Dean, was sentenced by the Taiwan High Court to four years in jail after being convicted in July 2012 on charges of hitting and killing a newspaper delivery man, Huang Chun-teh, while driving under the influence of alcohol in March 2010.

Dean was supposed to begin serving his sentence last year, but he fled the country using the passport of a British friend on Aug. 14.

The lawyer represented Huang's family said Huang's parents, both of whom are over 60 years old, are in dire straits.

His mother suffers from diabetes and lives in a nursing home, while the father does odd jobs and does not have a regular income.

Dean's lawyer said that he has not contacted his client since the sentence last year, but he expressed the hope that the court would refer to a statement by a parking valet surnamed Cho indicating that Dean was not driving the car at the time of accident.

Meanwhile, Dean's girlfriend was released on NT$50,000 bail and barred her from leaving the country Monday after being questioned by prosecutors over her role in helping Dean leave Taiwan.

After prosecutors issued a warrant for Dean on Jan. 29, they summoned his girlfriend, Tung Yu-chi, for questioning and seized her cellphone.

Prosecutors suspected that Tung deleted information from her phone that would have a bearing on the case, and police later found evidence that she helped Dean to flee.

Dean issued a statement Friday in which he continued to assert his innocence, especially questioning the prosecutors' handling of video evidence that may have shown the accident.

"The relevant Da'an police report stated that the video from every single relevant traffic camera was either missing or nonexistent. This report was presented on the last day of the trial, and was 26 months after the traffic incident," Dean wrote in his statement.

"I believe that the relevant video exists — or existed and has since been destroyed — but has been deliberately withheld because it would have proved my innocence beyond a shadow of a doubt."

Dean said in the statement that he would be willing to return to be retried based on four conditions, including having the video evidence being presented in court and have human rights observers present at the new trial.

Taipei prosecutors flatly rejected the conditions.

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