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June 29, 2017

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Court thwarts final efforts to detain Chang

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Taiwan High Court yesterday thwarted the Taipei District Prosecutors Office's final attempt to detain Chang Teh-cheng (張德正), the driver who recently rammed a 35-ton truck into the Presidential Office building.

The prosecution filed a fourth appeal on Saturday after Chang was summoned to court for the fifth time only to be released yet again on NT$300,000 bail. The debate over Chang's detention in the previous four trials took between four to six hours, each time ending in a court order to release the driver.

After posting threats on Facebook about driving a gravel truck into the Taipei District Court or the Presidential Office following his dissatisfaction with a court sentence — which resulted from domestic violence charges — Chang, true to his word, rammed his truck into the Presidential Office building on Jan. 25. He was found unconscious in the vehicle and rushed to a nearby hospital for emergency treatment.

Despite failing four previous attempts to have the driver detained, prosecutors pressed the court to detain the driver once more, reiterating that there is a chance of him committing a similar act again. Media outlets noted that the prosecution's repeated appeals for detainment was unprecedented in Taiwan's judicial history.

The Taiwan High Court yesterday decided to put a stop to the appeals, but the prosecution and court's actions provoked protests from the Judicial Reform Foundation (JRF).

The JRF accused the prosecution and the Taiwan High Court of abusing the system, describing Chang's case as "the farce that ushered in the Year of the Horse."

Although Chang should be held accountable for his actions, this doesn't mean that courts and prosecutors can abuse the system and misinterpret laws, the JRF said, adding that Chang didn't commit a serious crime and will not be escaping nor destroying evidence and therefore should not be detained.

The prosecution should not cave to pressure either from their superiors or the public, the JRF said, adding that prosecutors should not abuse their powers or lose sight of rationality.

Before undertaking his ride into the Presidential Office building, Chang wrote a letter to a local TV station., where he reportedly indicated that he was willing to accept a death sentence if people were killed or a life sentence even if no one was killed.

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