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MOI yet to announce appeal in Dapu case

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- If the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) decides to file an appeal against the Dapu verdict, then the ministry must find a legitimate reason to support its decision, Interior Minister Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) said yesterday, adding that the ministry will cautiously handle the matter and will also look into the possibility of not appealing the ruling.

Lee said if the government made administrative mistakes over the Dapu incident and caused property losses, then it is possible that MOI would not file an appeal.

Lee also said that it is important for the MOI to read through and study the reasons for the verdict before making any decisions, stressing that it is not the case he's worried about, but the possible domino effect that might come after the MOI's decision.

The Taichung High Administrative Court last week issued a judgment against the MOI regarding the demolition of four Dapu Village households in Miaoli County, ruling that the MOI must revoke the demolition orders.

Lee said part of the reason that Dapu incited controversies is the land expropriation process was conducted improperly by the authorities, stressing that it is thus inappropriate to stigmatize land expropriation, or to compare the Dapu incident with other land expropriation projects.

MOI to Receive Verdict Today

Deputy Interior Minister Hsiao Chia-chi (蕭家淇) said the official verdict issued by the court should arrive at the MOI today at the earliest, noting that the ministry is still evaluating the possible outcomes of the MOI's decisions.

Hsiao said every year around 1,000 land expropriation projects are registered for use by public utility enterprises across the nation. As for land expropriations for urban development projects, there are currently 33 ongoing cases (around 5,300 hectares), he added.

Hsiao stressed that the Dapu verdict will affect local governments' jurisdiction in terms of carrying out land expropriation, noting that the recent approved Taoyuan Aerotropolis Project, which involves eight land expropriation plans (over 3,500 hectares), will be affected by the verdict.

Taichung Mayor's Response

Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) yesterday said the Dapu verdict taught a lesson to local governments, noting that the authorities should revisit all the land expropriation projects, and evaluate the possible effect after the ruling.

Hu stressed that local governments must carry out land expropriations in accordance with the law, and at the same time local governments should start to get used to the fact that judicial verdicts will affect the authorities' administrative decisions.

Hu said he does not believe that Miaoli County would intentionally violate the laws, and authorities there probably think they did not go against any regulations. Nevertheless, the court still questions the legitimacy of the demolition order for the four households.

Those Dapu households were razed by Miaoli contractors in July of 2013 against the owners' wishes. After the court ruled that MOI violated the law, members of the households recently expressed their wish to have their land back and rebuild their homes on the original sites.

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