Thursday, December 18, 2008

Update on the case of Yunlin County Assembly Chief's battery of Robin Winkler during a Formosa Plastics Steel Plant Meeting

Tuesday saw the first hearing, and possibly last, in the High Court appeal of the case involving the Yunlin Assembly Chief Su Chin-huang's battering of Robin Winkler, director of Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association and a former commissioner on the Taiwan Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) Environmental Impact Assessment Commission at a meeting at the Taiwan EPA offices on 7 November 2007. The district court gave Su six months convertible to a fine and Winkler's legal team were able to persuade the prosecutor to appeal. However, in Taiwan this could mean anything (it could mean anything in just about any court system these days). Su has basically changed his story from total denial, to saying he accidentally struck Winkler because he was afraid Winkler was going to batter him, and then finally to saying "in the interest of social costs of these proceedings and serving my constituents better by not having to spend so much time in court, I will admit for the record that I intentionally battered him."

Winkler hasn't accepted Su's admission and it seems that the prosecutor doesn't either, because, the record Su made included his denial -- and that record will be available to him and others to use for their spin. Winkler also asked for the printing of the admission in the newspapers and in the same announcement to promise not to use violence against anyone again. Su pointed out that he is a politician and that it wouldn't be good for him to have the admission printed. The judge seem to support the admission being printed but said that the promise went beyond the scope of the case!

Now, Winkler is to propose language, get Su's agreement, and give it to the court within a week. The prosecutor says Su hasn't admitted anything, and is pressing for a harsher sentence. It is doubtful Su will agree to Winkler's terms.

It is a possibility that Su gets something like a year and then is given three years commutation, at which time the record will basically be expunged. It remains to be seen if the ruling Chinese National Party (KMT) will get involved. President Ma hasn't distanced himself from Su after Su was found guilty.

And then again, we could see "justice served" (?) and they lock Su up for a while. If the court doesn't take a strong stand they will be sending the signal that anyone daring to challenge the EPA/scholars/business cabal....well, beating people up -- is okay.

Also see:
Yunlin County Assembly Head Found Guilty of Battery of Robin Winkler during Formosa Plastics Steel Plant Meeting

Second Investigative Hearing into Assault against Wild at Heart Director at Meeting Involving Humpback Dolphins

Protesters accuse the EPA of protecting big business

Environmental activists denounce EPA

For the background and details of the November 2007 incident, see “Yunlin County Assembly Head Su Chin-Huang Found Guilty of Battery of Robin Winkler during Formosa Plastics Steel Plant Meeting” on the Wild at Heart blog.

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