Worst-case scenario: Court rules guilty in Scotsman’s trial

By Trista di Genova, The Wild East

Tuesday at 4 pm, the judge at Taipei District courthouse read out the verdict in less than five minutes, and the group filed out of the courtoom. Two family members of the deceased motorcyclist left first, and then the half-dozen or more Zain Dean supporters listened in the hallway as the translator read the verdict in English.

The court handed down a guilty verdict to the Briton on three counts: 1) DUI, with a five-month sentence; 2) a hit-and-run accident (technically “leaving the site of an accident”), a one-year prison term; and 3) accidental homicide, sixteen months. After serving two years and nine months Dean faces expulsion from the country where in 17 years he went from English teacher and reporter to entrepreneur advising the Taiwan government and leading corporations. His girlfriend, an ROC citizen, was found not guilty of destroying evidence.

For foreign observers who have closely watched the case unfold over the past year, it was the worst-case scenario, “a travesty of justice, but not entirely unexpected since there was the small chance, I suppose, that the judges could act with such impunity despite all the evidence proving Dean’s innocence,” said one American female observer who attended several hearings in past months. “It’s horribly disappointing, even an ominous indication of the nature of Taiwan’s judicial system as it relates to treatment of foreign residents here.”

Another female U.S. observer described the trial as “a ridiculous gangland frame-up.” She also pointed out recent corruption charges (bribery) made against several Taiwan judges, as well as the fact that shortly after the hit-and-run incident, several police officers in the very police precinct involved in Dean’s case were charged by the National Police Administration for their connections to local mafia.

“The conviction flies in the face of all evidence”, according to a retired British attorney who was present at hearings since last summer and is familiar with the case. For starters, a conviction on a DUI charge would usually be accompanied by evidence to back up this claim, he pointed out. And at no time were police or arresting officers called in to testify or substantiate evidence of intoxication, for example; in a fair trial “they must be brought into court.”

The attorney noted also that the videos submitted by the prosecution only proved the defense’s point — Dean got into the passenger seat that night and in fact, he wasn’t the driver when the accident occurred. Furthermore, critical surveillance footage from one of the city’s most camera-heavy intersections (Xinyi and Songren) had been suppressed in a case where guilt or innocence could have been easily established by this. When defense lawyer Billy Chen had pressed examining judges in the initial investigation for access to video footage, the magistrate snapped, “I’m not giving you the tapes, so stop asking me for them,” and observers believed this was not recorded in the trial transcript.

The trial was “a classic case of discrimination” against a UK national, the foreign observer concluded, since it was “wrongful, unfair treatment” that involved withholding of evidence. The attorney said he was recommending the BTCO (British Trade and Cultural Office in Taiwan) take a more active role in protecting its citizen in this case.

Dean, when interviewed by The Wild East about his conviction, said he felt no anger with the judges’ decision, after being in a legal limbo since March 25 last year. “I suppose I had been naive to think that the law or the evidence may have been used to make a verdict. According to Taiwanese law and the evidence of the case, I am innocent. I even publically pointed out the faked prosecutor photographic evidence in court, to an audience of 20 expat witnesses thinking this could have changed the outcome. But it didn’t”.

Dean also said he could understand why the judges had come to this decision. “The judges are in a tight spot, and have been under a lot of public pressure to find me guilty. Public pressure makes a big difference in Taiwan where the media exaggerate and sensationalize news stories.”

Canadian Denis Chauvin said, “I just don’t know how a guilty verdict can come if there isn’t any substantiated proof other than just some circumstantial nonsense.”

When the story broke last year that a foreign “CEO” had been involved in a hit-and-run accident with a “Mercedes,” it was splashed all over the news for a month. Tuesday’s verdict was a top news item the next day in the Chinese-language Apple Daily. English-language news outlets in Taiwan, however, were far less interested in the trial’s outcome — it was an inaccurate, shoddily written brief in the Taipei Times on Wednesday. It should be noted that The Wild East had the only foreign reporter present at this and other hearings of this trial. Read our previous coverage here and here.

Defense lawyer Chen — who’d previously expressed great confidence of the court delivering a ‘not-guilty’ verdict — is filing an appeal, and resolved to take this to Taiwan’s Supreme Court.

11 thoughts on “Worst-case scenario: Court rules guilty in Scotsman’s trial

  • March 18, 2011 at 7:56 pm
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    While there may have been flaws in the judicial process in Dean’s trial I don’t think it is reasonable to attribute this to discrimination against foreigners. There are many Taiwanese people who have suffered even greater injustice in Taiwan’s courts. The Hsichih Trio case is one of the most well known examples.

    Reply
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  • March 19, 2011 at 11:59 pm
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    Robert: When I read about that in the TT, I knew that something smelled fishy. The fact that so much video footage was rejected from the testimony is a clear signal that Taiwan’s justice system is completely fraudulent. If only the truth had a loud…er voice than the media speculation. Meanwhile, my friend’s friend was KILLED by a speeding taxi in the middle of the night downtown, and the 70-year old driver, 2 years past the legal limit for driving a taxi, gets off scot-free? How is that justice? Taiwan may be the greatest country in the world, but we have a long way to go around here.

    Steve: Thanks for writing about this case Trista. I have never met Mr. Dean and probably never will, but from what you have written and from what I have read elsewhere, I know that justice was not served here. the last couple months have convinced me how far Taiwan still has to go in some ways like this. It’s shocking. It may not mean anything, but all my best wishes go to Zain and the family of that poor fellow on the street.

    Magda: Great concern for both foreigners and Taiwanese. Taiwan is not China so why is it acting like it?

    Steve: Do you think the problems in this case are related to Zain Dean being a foreigner or is the justice system just screwed up for everybody? Likely a bit of both, but what do you think?

    Magda: I think everybody. One member of my family in Taiwan was well-screwed by the justice system so I know first-hand that the system can be too corrupt to discriminate against races in a sense–in fact in her case sexism played a big role. Having said that, you can have a really good experience with it too: it depends on who you are, whom you know, who the other party is, who the judge is. In a nutshell: unfair.

    Robert: When jurisprudence really took off in the States/Colonies, the judge’s ultimate goal was to get to the truth, like in Parry Mason, except for a lot of obvious racial mishaps. This system had fallen into cronyism and back door deals long bef…ore a perverted version, via our ROC constitution, became the “new normal” in Taiwan. If I were you, I wouldn’t expect anything worthwhile to come from this group of partisan, reclaim the motherland fogies. They make the EPA look like they’re doing something, haha. Justice be damned! Full speed ahead! Who’s next on Taiwan’s deathlist? Hmm.

    Trista: @Steve, good question, because not only was the foreign defendant in this case totally screwed over in terms of justice, the FAMILY of the victim is hardly likely to ever find out who was actually driving the car that night. Nobody can get justice in thiis case, and the gangsters will get away with it, too.

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  • March 21, 2011 at 1:55 am
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    Good article, but who was the driver, if Scott wasn’t? It’s a simple question. What’s the answer?

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  • March 27, 2011 at 8:48 am
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    The driver was assigned to take Dean home, and got into the driver’s seat. However, from the video footage, he is not clearly identifiable.

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  • May 3, 2011 at 3:29 pm
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    As a matter of fact there is quite a lot of evidence, which proves the verdict to be correct. Just repeating again and again wrong allegations against the Taiwan judges and procecutors wont help. Zain Deans lawyer Billy Chen, who is described as famouse and experienced lawyer passed his lawyer examination 2 years ago (!) and has no court experience at all. No evidence whatever was surpressed. The procecutors are in possession of all available video tapes. People shall accept, that Zain Dean is a liar, who drove drunken home from a karaoke and -while driving drunken- killed a person. The next morning he tried to sell the car. Nothing else to say here. The jusgement is correct, there is no discrimination whatsoever, and by the way, teh verdict is very mild. In the US, Canada, or Europe, you get easily a 5 year sentence, if you behave as respectless as Zain Dean did at court.

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    • May 4, 2011 at 3:49 am
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      @ Stephen: Ridiculous to make up a rumor that Billy Chen had no court experience. I can think of at least two other cases off-hand, without having followed his career closely. I bet you made up that bit about him passing the bar exam two years ago, too.
      What is cowardly is refusing to accept the proven fact that Dean wasn’t even driving that night, it is a FACT he was passed out in the PASSENGER’s seat that night, being driven home by a KTV driver. And the prosecution and legal system refused to allow the defense access to surveillance footage that would prove this; they also refused to submit it themselves to the court. Why? Because it would prove it was all a setup, and gross malfaisance by law enforcement.
      It is also cowardly to make stuff up and post it as if you are actually knowledgeble in this affair. You obviously have some sort of personal vendetta against this person.

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      • May 5, 2011 at 10:07 pm
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        Scoopstar, I dont agree with ur statement.

        1) The tel number of the Taipei Bar Association is: 2351-5071. You can call or let a Taiwanese friend call and ask for this “Billy Chen”. They will confirm to you that he was first time addmitted to the bar assocation in 2008.
        2) It is a FACT, that Dean drove the car, nobody was sitting in the passenger seat The KTV driver was driving about 370 meter and walked back to the KTV.
        3) Surveilance footage might be published later, to humiliate Dean, his lawyer, and his story and his supporters (sorry for that!)
        4) For myself I dont understand, why “Billy Chen” the lawyer, did in fact fail, to get copys of the surviliance footage by himself. Taipei City Government always releases variouse footages upon application of a local lawyer. Its daily business. Nevertheless “Billy Chen” never applied for the release of the footage…WHY??
        I have nothing against Dean at all, I dont know him. But you people must learn, that there is no setup and no gross malfaisance by law enforcement at all in this case. Just wait a little, and you will see.

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        • May 10, 2011 at 10:22 pm
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          1.Yes, I did call the Taipei Bar, Billy Chen has been on record there for over 10 years.
          2. It is a FACT that video footage showed he was not driving the car. I was there in court. I saw the footage. Where did you get your information? That footage was never released to the public, and I didn’t see you in court either.
          3./ 4. In fact the footage was requested at the beginning of the trial by two seperate lawyers from the Rotary club he belongs to and they were ignored.

          Someone like yourself was on forumosa.com and was asked to leave. Making baseless statements like this seems to be odd. Why? Do you have a personal vendetta against him?
          As I said earlier; no matter where a person is from (Argentina, Mainland China, Canada, etc) they deserve a fair trial based on facts and law.

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  • May 5, 2011 at 6:21 pm
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    I was actually in court the day Zain pointed out the faked photographs, that had been provided by the police as evidence. It’s a joke that that the mafia and police can get together to pull a stunt like this.

    And having known Zain for 15 years in Taiwan, I can assure you he is from Scotland, his parents from India. But what’s that got to do with anything? No matter where anyone is from, they deserve a fair trial free from racism and prejudice.

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  • December 18, 2011 at 2:04 pm
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    Scoopstar whilst your friend who got killed was a tragedy, you failed to point out that he ran through a red light. The taxi driver wasn’t speeding but was over the age limit to hold a taxi licence. So where is the justice in that you ask? None required.

    Zain Dean was convicted and it out on appeal. He is not being held in remand as might happen in so many other countries. So where is the injustice with this. Whether or not you agree with his conviction, that is a matter for the courts and Deans lawyers to deal with.

    Reply

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