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Minister optimistic on British drunken driver's extradition

2013/11/21 13:01:44

Taipei, Nov. 21 (CNA) Taiwan is optimistic that British national Zain Dean, convicted in Taiwan of killing a man when driving drunk, will be extradited to Taiwan early next year from the United Kingdom.

"We hold out great hope for Dean's extradition as the U.K. has a well-institutionalized legal system," Justice Minister Luo Ying-shay told reporters Thursday before a weekly Cabinet meeting.

Her remarks came amid reports that Dean, who was chief executive of U.K.-based NCL Media's Taiwan branch before fleeing Taiwan last year on his conviction, has been detained by Scottish authorities since mid-October.

If the U.K. were unlikely to extradite him, Luo pointed out, it would not have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) last month specifically covering the Dean case.

At the same time, uncertainties remain as Dean has retained lawyers to argue against his extradition, she said.

Scottish police arrested Dean Oct. 17, and he was detained on the ruling of an Edinburgh court. The court was set to hold a bail bond hearing later Thursday.

As of the morning, it remained uncertain whether Dean would be granted bail or would have his detention extended, according to Luo.

It could be another two months before the court holds an extradition hearing.

"We wouldn't know whether Dean will be extradited until January or February next year," the minister said.

Dean fled Taiwan in August 2012, shortly before he was due to begin serving a four-year prison term for the 2010 killing of a newspaper delivery man in downtown Taipei while driving under the influence of alcohol.

Taiwan prosecutors issued a warrant for Dean's arrest in January this year.

Following his high-profile escape, in which Dean used a friend's passport and make-up to disguise himself, Taiwan's justice ministry contacted British authorities through diplomatic channels to ask for assistance after the Taipei District Prosecutors Office learned of the fugitive's whereabouts.

Several rounds of negotiations eventually led to the signing in October of an MOU specifically covering Dean's extradition. It was signed by Chen Wen-chi, director of the justice ministry's Department of International and Cross-strait Legal Affairs, and U.K. Home Office Director Tyson Hepple.

(By Hsieh Chia-chen and Sofia Wu)