Protesters acquitted of crime for throwing shoe, papers at president
Central News Agency
2014-06-11 11:12 PM
Taipei, June 11 (CNA) A district court found a protester Wednesday not guilty of charges brought against him after he threw a shoe at President Ma Ying-jeou during a Human Rights Day speech two years ago. Taipei District Court recognized the right of Peter Wang, head of a group advocating Taiwan independence, who threw his shoe at Ma during a presidential address at a human rights memorial park on December 10, 2012. The court also noted that Lai Fang-chi, a member of Wang's group, made a similar attempt to throw a folder of press handouts at the president. But while their behavior was found improper, the court ruled they had not broken the Assembly and Parade Act.

After reviewing video footage provided by the memorial park, the court found that the event was not interrupted by their actions despite the actions having causing loud noises from some participants. The Taipei District Prosecutors Office had charged Wang and Lai with violating the law by causing a disturbance at the event and impairing the rights of participants. During the trial, the defendants maintained their innocence by arguing that the throwing of shoes is not a violent act and is instead an exercise of freedom of speech. Wang said he took action because President Ma has not kept his campaign promises, while Lai said the reason for his attempt to throw the handouts was that their contents were not as factual as advertised. What they did was problematic, the court said, but these acts did not break the law. For this reason, the judges ruled that they were not guilty. (By Page Tsai and Yang Chen-chuan)

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