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September 21, 2017

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Crash driver released on NT$150,000 bail

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Taipei District Court yesterday ruled that truck driver Chang Teh-cheng (張德正) be released on bail of NT$150,000 and be confined to his residence in Taipei.

The driver was taken to court for the third time yesterday after the Taiwan High Court ruled twice for Chang's release against the prosecution's appeal to have him detained.

Chang, who had been hospitalized and interrogated after he ran his gravel truck through the front gate and up the steps of the Presidential Office last Saturday, was released without bail on Thursday after a four-hour hearing.

The Taipei District Prosecutors' Office filed an appeal early on Thursday morning after the court ordered Chang's release for the first time on Wednesday night; the High Court simply sent the request for detention to the Taipei District Court without a ruling. The District Court then decided against the need to detain Chang as it would be highly unlikely for him to attempt an escape.

Chang's brother Chang Shao-chi accompanied him to court yesterday, saying that the family felt helpless as Chang had to show up in court for Chinese New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. "Even our mother feels this is weird."

On Thursday, the court remanded Chang to the custody of three lawyers, and retracted its ruling after the prosecution made another appeal. The trial began at 3 p.m. yesterday.

Chang's attorney stated that although the prosecution felt Chang should be detained due to the possibility that he may commit a similar crime, the act of "ramming into the Presidential Office" does not call for preventive detention; the judge cannot stretch the law in order to detain him, said a lawyer, surnamed Tseng.

"It had been the residing judge's decision that Chang should be committed to the custody of three lawyers, but there is no current law that decides if it would be less appropriate if he is entrusted to his family," said Tseng, who added that the trial will determine the maturity of Taiwan's judiciary laws.

There has been much speculation over the future course of Chang's trial, given the fact that prior to driving the truck into the gates of the Presidential Office, Chang had written a letter to a local media outlet, saying that if anyone were to be killed as a result of his actions, he would accept the death penalty. If anyone were hurt, he said, he would accept a life sentence.

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