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June 29, 2017

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Sunflower activists voluntarily head to prosecutors' office

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Sunflower Student Movement representatives Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆), Chen Wei-ting (陳為廷) and five others yesterday went to the Taipei District Prosecutors Office to answer questions regarding their involvement in the March 18 Legislative Yuan occupation and the March 23 Executive Yuan intrusion.

Wellington Ku (顧立雄), the representatives' attorney, said that he will enter a plea of not guilty on behalf of his clients.

The Taipei City Police Department originally planned to question Lin and 20 others at 4 p.m. yesterday; however, Lin, Chen and five others arrived at the prosecutors' office instead in the company of Ku at roughly 1:30 p.m. in order to answer questions regarding the Legislative Yuan occupation and the attempted occupation of the Executive Yuan complex.

Ku said that his clients will not accept police questioning, and that they decided to explain their involvement in the demonstrations to prosecutors instead.

Questioning lasted roughly one hour, after which all seven left the prosecutors office.

Prosecutors have been assigned to investigate Lin, Chen and others over obstruction of justice charges.

The Taipei District Prosecutors Office confirmed that the seven were questioned as defendants, adding that if their statements reveal unlawful acts other than those they are charged with, they will be seen as voluntarily turning themselves in.

Ku said that his clients are willing to cooperate with prosecutors in their investigations, and that they do not intend to shirk away from their legal responsibilities.

The seven took part in the student movement on the basis of civil disobedience and their constitutional rights, Ku said, adding that if others are summoned for questioning by police, they can contact the Judicial Reform Foundation for legal assistance.

When asked if his clients had "turned themselves in" by visiting prosecutors on their own initiative and whether or not they had requested reduced punishments, Ku said that it would be beneficial to the defendants if prosecutors interpret their visit as an instance of the activists turning themselves in; however, the attorneys' basic stance is to enter a not guilty plea.

On March 18, student activists stormed the Legislature and took over the Assembly Hall — the location in which plenary sessions are held — in order to prevent lawmakers from voting on the controversial Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement. Afterward, thousands of like-minded protesters surrounded the Legislative Yuan complex and staged a sit-in that lasted for weeks.

On March 23, student activists broke into the Executive Yuan complex in order to expand their demonstration. They were forcibly removed, leading to accusations of police brutality.

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