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Court ruling not the end of false rumor case: foreign minister

2018/12/17 12:27:24

Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (CNA file photo)

Taipei, Dec. 17 (CNA) Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) on Monday pledged to seek further legal recourse after a district court last week rejected a motion by police to fine a college student for spreading a rumor that was followed by the suicide of a Taiwanese diplomat in Japan in September.

"We think the ruling is extremely regrettable and unacceptable," Wu told reporters on the sidelines of a legislative hearing in Taipei.

He said the court ruling sends a message that people who spread such rumors are not accountable.

"We will engage in talks with the relevant judicial authorities and seek further legal recourse to ensure that such an incident does not occur again," Wu said but did not elaborate.

He was commenting a Nantou District Court decision last Friday not to fine a college student who was accused of spreading rumors that undermined public order and peace.

In September, the student posted the rumor on social media, saying that Taiwan nationals were left stranded at Kansai International Airport in Japan during flooding after Typhoon Jebi, while the Chinese embassy there had sent 15 tour buses to evacuate China citizens.

The post sparked criticism of Taiwan's top envoy to Japan Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), with netizens saying he was not doing his job at a time when Taiwanese tourists most needed help, and instead was spending time sparring with his political enemies.

Su Chii-cherng (蘇啟誠), head of the Taiwan office in Osaka office with jurisdiction over the Kansai area, was found dead at his residence in Osaka on Sept. 14, a fatality that was deemed a suicide and allegedly was linked to the public criticisms of the Taiwan office in Japan. It was later made clear that no vehicles other than the airport shuttle buses were allowed to depart from Kansai airport while it was flooded.

In its ruling, the Nantou court said police did not present enough evidence to prove that the student had violated Article 63 of the Social Order Maintenance Act.

The act prohibits "spreading rumors in a way that is sufficient to undermine public order and peace" and it allows a penalty of three days in jail or a fine of NT$30,000. Police had been seeking the court's permission to fine the student in accordance with the law.

(By Joseph Yeh)