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Turncoat Justin Lin still accountable for his desertion: MND

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A Ministry of National Defense (MND) official yesterday reiterated the military's decades-long stance that Justin Lin (林毅夫), a Taiwanese national who defected to China more than 30 years ago, is still a wanted fugitive following a meeting at the government watchdog Control Yuan.

Asked to disclose the contents of the meeting, Chou Chih-jen (周志仁), director of MND's Department of Legal Affairs, yesterday told local media that he is not allowed to do so.

However, he stressed that the MND's stance has remained the same in that Lin is still wanted on charges of treason.

He added that the statute of limitations in pressing charges against the renowned economist has not expired because Lin is still committing the crime.

Meanwhile, Control Yuan members Yeh Yao-peng (葉耀鵬) and Chao Chang-ping (趙昌平), who summoned Chou, Vice Justice Minister Wu Chen-huan (吳陳鐶) and the Justice Ministry's Department of Prosecutorial Affairs Director-General Chang Wen-cheng (張文政) during the meeting yesterday also refused to disclose the contents of the meeting, citing confidential reasons.

Yeh told local media before the meeting that it was not their intention to meddle in the treason case of Lin, saying that they were simply asking the military and the Justice Ministry's assistance in understanding the legalities of Lin's case.

Local media previously alleged that the two believe the government should lift the arrest order on Lin because the statute of limitations — which sets the period of prosecution at 20 years for defection to an enemy state — has passed.

Lin's Defection

Lin, a former Taiwanese Army captain stationed on the outlying frontline island of Kinmen, swam across the Taiwan Strait to the Chinese mainland on May 16, 1979.

He later studied economics at Peking University before becoming a world-renowned economist.

For decades, Lin has repeatedly urged Taiwan to allow him to come home on humanitarian grounds, however, the MND has insisted that he is still a fugitive wanted on treason charges, and said he is welcome to come back to face the legal consequences for his offense.

Defection to an enemy state is punishable by death, life imprisonment or a minimum of 10 years in prison, according to the Criminal Code of the Armed Forces.

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