Manila, May 8 (CNA) Seventy-two Taiwanese suspects detained in the Philippines last month in connection with an international telephone scam are seeking to be repatriated back to Taiwan, allegedly due to the difficulty of being convicted in Taiwan, according local media reports.
Israelito Torreon, the men's lawyer, told the media that he has urged the prosecution to drop criminal charges against the men and let them return to Taiwan, calling into question the legitimacy of the police's search warrants.
On April 18, Philippine police arrested the Taiwanese along with six Chinese suspects in raids on three locations in the southern city of Davao following a tip-off from Taiwanese police.
According to the initial investigation, the ring members posed as prosecutors, government officials or customs service agents to swindle money out of their victims, who were mostly in China.
But an official with Taiwan's representative office in the Philippines said the men are eager to be repatriated as Taiwan's detention environment is better than in the Philippines and suspects are not easily convicted for fraud under Taiwan's legal system.
The official, who asked not to be named, said that the representative office has informed the Philippines immigration authorities that Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has revoked the passports of the 72 suspects, so they will not be able to leave the Philippines even if they are released on bail.
In February 2011, a number of Taiwanese suspects in similar telephone scams were deported to China, a decision which caused a diplomatic row between Taiwan and the Philippines.
Since then, nearly 100 Taiwanese suspects in similar fraud rings have been released pending further questioning in the Philippines, but most of them have disappeared, while most of those who were repatriated to Taiwan have been released due to lack of evidence or witnesses.
(By Emerson T. Lim and Lilian Wu)