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Student leaders not indicted for street protest
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-07-01 03:01 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Top leaders of the student movement should not be indicted for a street protest against President Ma Ying-jeou last October, prosecutors said Tuesday.

A group of people occupied Ketagalan Boulevard, the wide avenue in front of the Presidential Office Building, after 11 p.m. on October 8 last year, just two days ahead of Double Ten National Day celebrations.

The protesters included several students and academics who would gain national prominence during the occupation of the Legislative Yuan last March and April. Lin Fei-fan, Chen Wei-ting, Huang Kuo-chang and Wei Yang were among the protesters accused of having hampered traffic during the October protest, which was aimed at Ma over his power struggle with Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng.

The Taipei District Prosecutors Office announced its decision Tuesday not to indict the protesters based on the manner in which police had ordered the crowd to disperse.

Prosecutors said that only a precinct chief had the right to order an end to a protest, but, according to their investigation, Zhongzheng First Precinct chief Fang Yang-ning was not present the first three times that police raised a placard telling the protesters their action was illegal and they should disperse immediately. The interval between the three times was also too short at an average of five minutes each, prosecutors said.

Fang only appeared 40 minutes later, at 15 past midnight, when police showed the warning for the fourth time, according to investigators.

Studying video footage of the protest, the prosecutors also came to the conclusion that the participants only stood still on their original location to shout slogans and never attacked the police. Since passing pedestrians and cars had apparently not encountered any difficulties because of the protest either, there was no sufficient evidence to prosecute the student leaders, prosecutors concluded.

The March 18-April 10 occupation of the legislative compound targeted Ma’s insistence on passing the trade-in-services pact with China, but the October protest was directed against his power struggle with Wang.

In early September, prosecutors accused the legislative speaker, a long-term rival of Ma within the ruling Kuomintang, of having tried to use his influence to have the judiciary stop filing an appeal against a top opposition lawmaker. Ma immediately recommended Wang be stripped of his KMT membership, which would have also cost him his leadership of the Legislature.

The legal battle which has raged since, has so far favored Wang, allowing him to stay on as speaker and as a member of the KMT. The case also snowballed to include allegations against then-Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming, who was forced to resign after a court found him guilty of revealing confidential information about the investigation into Wang. Legal proceedings are still continuing, even though the case has vanished from the headlines.

The power struggle caused a further decline in the president’s opinion poll standings, which had already been below 20 percent for more than a year.

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