The Wild East
Thursday morning began with a court hearing at Taipei District Court for ‘David’, a Briton who’s been in a detention center near Taipei for 3 months during the investigation of another expatriate who fled Taiwan August 11.
‘David’ — Chris Churcher — appeared pale but said afterwards that the moral support “meant a lot” to him, to see his friends there.
The new, youthful judge was ‘really cute!’ said one foreign (male) onlooker; last week’s change in judges is seen as likely due to the fact no judges want to be associated with it.
Churcher is being detained in relation to the case of Zain Dean, another Brit who fled the ‘country’ rather than do time for a crime he claims he did not commit — a fatal hit-and-run accident. Dean said in a faxed statement in February via the spokesperson of activist Prof. Linda Arrigo, that he would return to Taiwan if the justice system would revisit his case in the presence of international observers.
Dean’s case is of particular interest to human rights observers because key evidence in his case ‘disappeared’. Contrary to media hype, he personally expressed remorse in the past over being associated with the loss of life of scooter rider Wang that fateful night. Yet he and his defense have also pointed out that this critical, missing surveillance footage would have exonerated him, by proving he was not driving the vehicle that evening. However, the court refused to allow the defense attorney access to this footage, and it was withheld during the subsequent appeal, which Dean lost.
Churcher has pleaded guilty, admitting that he gave — not sold — his passport to Dean, “because he is my friend, and I felt he didn’t receive fair treatment by the police in his case.” Churcher also added Thursday that he was “extremely sorry for the mistakes I’ve made”, for the “inconvenience to Taiwan authorities,” and hoped the Wang family “could find it in their hearts to forgive me for any pain I may have caused them.”
The circus-like Taiwan media has long sensationalized the case, whipping up public pressure to the extent that it forced even President Ma Ying-jeou to weigh in, claiming the offenders in this case would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. According to Focus News, prosecutors issued a warrant on Dean, Ma said, adding that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has contacted Taiwan’s representative office in the U.K. to seek judicial cooperation with British authorities.
According to Taipei prosecutors, Churcher is being held over allegations of document forgery, breach of the Immigration Act — charges made against Dean — adding the charge of harboring a fugitive. On the other hand, Dean’s girlfriend, a Taiwanese who was accused of the same three charges, has been allowed bail.
Thursday’s youthful judge referred to the case as “not a serious offense,” which may (or may not) indicate allowing for some leniency. However, in situations like this — combined with public pressure — she likely will agree to the prosecution’s tense call for a minimum 7-month prison sentence.
The defense’s lawyer, Billy Chen (陳達成), commented afterward that such a sentence would likely not take into account time served. The sentence is expected to be handed down this Monday, and in the meantime Churcher will be moved to another facility.
Churcher’s family and supporters, who have rallied to his aid, remain worried but are praying for leniency.
How To Donate to Get Chris Home
All donations will be transferred to a Lloyds bank charities and societies account named ‘Get Chris Home’ and will be used to pay Chris’ legal fees and any resulting fines. Any payments from the account will be made public on the group as well as any discussions of remaining funds once the case has been resolved. For more information please contact Matt Barton, Amanda King or Sally Churcher.
If you wish to make a donation to the Get Chris Home fund, you can do so in a number of ways:
By Paypal/Debit or Credit Card – Follow the link to Fundrazr page. Please note that paypal and fundrazr take a combined percentage of approximately 7% from each donation.
By Bank Transfer – The best way to ensure all your donation goes straight to the fund:
Account Name: Get Chris Home
Account Number: 55147068
Sort Code: 30-64-57
Cheques can also be written to ‘Get Chris Home’ and posted to me at my work address. Once received I will notify you and deposit them in the account the same day.
New Dover Road