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Keelung mayor sentenced to 1 year, 8 months in jail

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Taiwan High Court yesterday sentenced Keelung Mayor Chang Tung-jung (張通榮) to one year and eight months in prison for demanding that police release a detained drunk driver, adding that the penalty cannot be deferred.

The sentence is the second ruling and is subject to appeal, the court said.

According to the verdict, on Sept. 14, 2012, Keelung citizen Liao Mei-hsiu (廖美秀) drove through Keelung City under the influence of alcohol. Liao was stopped by two police officers during a routine inspection.

Liao allegedly refused to cooperate and assaulted the two police officers, kicking their legs and punching them in the face. Liao was later taken back to the police station and detained, the verdict said.

Chang later went to the police station and allegedly forced police to release Liao by threatening to transfer them somewhere else, the court said, noting that Chang's actions were deemed an obstruction of officers discharging their duties.

The Keelung District Court in 2013 July sentenced Chang to one year and eight months imprisonment and gave him a five-year probation. The Keelung prosecutors later appealed against the ruling.

The Taiwan High Court yesterday said as Chang still insists his behavior at the police station was a “service” for citizens and continues to shirk his responsibilities over the incident, the court issued the second ruling for him to serve a prison term without probation.

The court issued a final ruling for Liao to serve five months in prison, noting that Liao's punishment may be commuted to a fine that may equal a daily rate of NT$1,000, NT$2,000 or NT$3,000.

MOI on Chang's ruling

The Ministry of the Interior (MOI) yesterday said the issue of whether or not to dismiss Chang from his current position as mayor depends on the final ruling in the case.

The MOI further said that as Chang has served more than half of his current term, if the MOI does dismiss him from his post it will report the incident to the Cabinet to appoint an acting mayor to Keelung City.

Chang's Response

The Keelung mayor yesterday afternoon released a press statement saying that it is unfortunate to have received such a verdict. Chang said he simply wanted to solve a dispute between a woman who suffers from severe depression and police.

According to Chang's statement, he said that perhaps his attitude was not good and caused misunderstanding, stressing, however, that he “definitely” did not threaten or attempt to obstruct police. Chang said he feels sorry that the judges did not believe his statements.

Chang was quoted by the United Daily News as saying that he will make a decision on whether or not to appeal the ruling when he receives the official verdict.

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