By Trista di Genova, The Wild East
Media are invited to attend the last hearing in the trial of Zain Dean, on Feb. 18th, 2011, 10am in Room 10 at the Taipei District Courthouse on BoAi Rd.
Dean is a Scotsman accused in a hit-and-run accident and death of a motorcyclist that caused a media circus in Taiwan when it happened March 25, 2010. Now that the actual facts of the case have been established, its outcome seems particularly important to the foreign community in Taiwan, as it indicates how foreigners are, can and will be treated within Taiwan’s roller-coaster ride of a judicial system.
Both English and Chinese media initially published false information fed them by the Taipei police and prosecutor’s office, critical facts such as: 1) Dean was shown on CCTV footage getting into the driver’s seat (he actually got into the PASSENGER’s seat, and was driven home); 2) he was “apprehended” by police as he was trying to “flee the country through Kinmen” (he was going to the station to report the damage to his car, didn’t have his passport or anything but a briefcase on him, and had made plans prior to the accident to visit girlfriend’s family in Kinmen); and that 3) he tried to destroy the Mercedes-Benz as evidence (he’d determined from the mechanic that fixing the 1994 model would be more expensive than its value (repairs estimated at over 100,000nt, around US$3000, what he’d paid for the vehicle). And instead of intending to “destroy it” as the media claimed, it was slated to be sold in a few weeks for scrap parts.
This summary is being republished with the permission of maoman, who posted it on a discussion thread on forumosa.com.
I observed a one of Zain Dean’s court appearances this morning (Jan. 28), and it was an eye-opening experience.
Let me preface what I’m about to say with a bit of a disclaimer: Zain was one of four roommates I lived with back in 95/96 and although we’ve never been close friends, we’ve always had a friendly relationship. I’ve been pretty neutral about his guilt or innocence up to now because to be blunt, I wasn’t at the scene of the accident and I couldn’t say speculate with any certainty that I knew what had happened on that night last March. Am I biased because of my association with Zain? I’ll let you be the judge of that.
Today I heard three witnesses speak. The first witness was brought forth in handcuffs – he’s currently in jail serving time for another, unrelated offence. He was vague and rebuked by the judge for giving contradictory statements. He finally expressed in exasperation that he really didn’t remember the events of that night very clearly and didn’t want to be “in the middle of this”. The second witness, the alleged driver, was a slouching 20-something year old, with ripped jeans hanging halfway down his ass and long-ish Japanese pop star-style disheveled hair. He mumbled his way unconvincingly through his testimony, only to be rebuked by the judge to “get his story straight”. According to Zain’s lawyer, with whom I spoke briefly afterwards, his testimony also contradicted his earlier statements. Zain’s lawyer seemed pretty pleased with the shabby performances of these two guys. The third witness was Zain’s girlfriend, who was clear-spoken, gentle, and concise. She gave a very solid account of what had happened after they had discovered the damage to the car and why they had decided not to repair it.
After seeing the complete lack of a case on the side of the prosecution, and talking to Zain and his lawyer and hearing what they had to say, I’ve got to say that I can’t imagine the judge finding Zain guilty. In fact, I’d be happy to take some friendly wagers, if anyone wants to be parted with their cash that badly.
As happy as I am for Zain that the case against him seems to be completely unraveling, I’m still dismayed by the way the media presented their own verdict, before the facts of the case were even known, and of course I’m very sorry for the family of the victim, surely the biggest losers in this whole sordid affair.