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Protesters besiege Taipei police station
Students score court victory against police
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-04-11 03:59 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A protest against alleged police violence escalated into a full-blown siege of a precinct station Friday evening to demand the resignation of the local chief.

The day after the official ending of the 24-day student occupation of the Legislative Yuan, the situation was still far from calm, with about 1,000 people besieging the Zhongzheng First Police Precinct building near the Taipei Railway Station.

The action started around 6 p.m. as a “walk-by” protest, one of several similar recent marches designed to avoid restrictions on stationary protests.

After an hour, riot police emerged, which provoked clashes, reports said. The protesters wanted local police chief Fang Yang-ning to apologize as they accused him of having broken a promise to disperse the morning’s crowds outside the Legislative Yuan without violence.

The chief came out to meet the protesters several times Friday evening and said that if he had made any mistakes, he was willing to be the subject of a judicial investigation. He confirmed that he had ordered the removal of Tsai Ting-kuey and his Taiwan Referendum Association following because they did not have the legal right to occupy the space. Since nobody was handcuffed, the police action still counted as a “soft dispersal,” Fang said.

Taipei City Mayor Hau Lung-bin reportedly expressed support for the police chief’s stance and visited a police station to learn about the latest developments, reports said. The city rejected reports that it would launch a crackdown at 9 p.m., adding it would only use force if the protesters crossed a red line.

The protesters threw eggs and ghost money and wrote a slogan on the walls demanding the abolition of the Assembly and Parade Act which imposes restrictions on protest organizers. There were reports that security measures around the Presidential Office Building were being stepped up. The crowds were still present by 10 p.m. Friday.

The evening protest was a consequence of police action early Friday morning. While the students ended their 24-day protest Thursday evening to the acclaim of more than 22,000 peaceful supporters, a small group refused to leave the area and was dispersed Friday morning.

During the altercations, TRA head Tsai was injured during a collision with a bus, reports said. His followers had wanted to stay at the front entrance of the Legislative Yuan, where they held action before. Police said Thursday that because of numerous legal violations by the group, they would no longer allow it to stay.

After mediation by opposition Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Yu Mei-nu, five members of the TRA were allowed to enter the Legislative Yuan to remove objects they had been unable to take away with them when police began to disperse them.

In a separate move seen as a victory for students, the Taipei District Court ordered police to hand over all evidence about the March 24 evacuation of the Executive Yuan.

After students occupied the Legislative Yuan on March 18 in a protest against the trade-in-services pact with China, a small group succeeded in entering the Executive Yuan, including the office of Premier Jiang Yi-huah, on March 23. The following morning, a riot police force wielding batons and using water cannons dislodged them, leading to accusations of police brutality.

The court said Friday that police needed to give it all evidence, including camera footage and police deployment plans, within five days. The ruling followed a request in that sense from a teacher and a dentist who said they had been brutally beaten by officers despite them being unarmed.

They had reproached the government its use of excessive violence against peaceful protesters and students, while saying their problem was not with the police but the people giving the orders.

The materials police needed to deliver to the court for safekeeping included all video recordings from 7 p.m. on March 23 to 6 a.m. on March 24 from cameras on streets surrounding the Executive Yuan building. Sound recordings, police organization and work plans, as well as preparatory training data were also included, the court said.

The pro deo attorneys for the teacher and the dentist said there was visual evidence of the men being beaten until they started bleeding. They expressed high praise for Friday’s court decision.

Prominent attorney Wellington Koo, who forms part of a team working on behalf of protesters, warned the police not to mess with the evidence. Past cases involving the military or the police have been noted for suspicions of tampered evidence and missing recordings.

On Thursday, National Police Agency chief Wang Cho-chiun still claimed it was impossible for the police to hand over the evidence because of the confidentiality of the investigation, a statement which Koo said had infuriated him.

Separately, student leaders Lin Fei-fan and Chen Wei-ting, who did not take part in the Executive Yuan takeover, each faced nine to ten different charges, reports said. Leading figures have called on the government not to use the judiciary to take revenge against the occupiers. Attorneys have argued that their acts were motivated by civil disobedience and should therefore not be treated like common criminal feats.

Lawmakers criticized police investigators who entered the Legislative Yuan Thursday evening immediately after the occupation ended to collect fingerprints and other evidence, apparently to prepare for an enquiry into alleged crimes.

Huang Kuo-chang, an Academia Sinica researcher who played a prominent role in the occupation, said a planned speech at the Central Weather Bureau had been postponed, possibly because the government now regarded him as a hooligan. He later accepted an apology from an official who said there had been a misunderstanding because the bureau building was located in a restricted zone near the Presidential Office.

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