Eight Filipinos sentenced over 2013 killing of Taiwanese fisherman
Manila, Sept. 18 (CNA) A Manila court on Wednesday handed down prison sentences to eight Philippine coast guard officers over the 2013 fatal shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman in waters where the exclusive economic zones of the two countries overlap.
The ruling found the eight guilty of homicide and sentenced them to prison terms ranging from eight years and one day to 14 years 8 months and one day, for their involvement in the shooting death of 65-year-old Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成).
The eight have been identified as Commander Arnold de la Cruz, Petty Officer 2 Richard Corpuz, Seaman 2nd Class Nicky Aurelio, Seaman 1st Class Edrando Aguila, Seaman 1st Class Mhelvyn Bendo II, Seaman 1st Class Andy Gibb Golfo, Seaman 1st Class Sonny Masangkay and Seaman 1st Class Henry Solomon, according to a report by English-language Philippine Star.
The court also ordered the men to "jointly and severally" pay the heirs of the killed fisherman 50,000 Philippine pesos (US$957) in civil indemnity and another 50,000 pesos in moral damages.
The defendants lawyer Santiago C. Quial told local media that he will file an appeal on behalf of his defendants.
Hung was killed on May 9, 2013 when a Philippine coast guard vessel manned by the eight indicted men opened fire on the Pingtung-registered Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 in an area where the exclusive economic zones of the two countries overlap, severely straining bilateral relations.
In response to the ruling, Hung's daughter Hung Tzu-chien (洪慈綪), told CNA the family is not entirely happy with the ruling but said it was acceptable.
Hung Tzu-chien said she hopes the incident raises the awareness of Taiwan's government as to the importance of protecting the rights of Taiwanese fishermen operating overseas.
Meanwhile, Taiwan's foreign ministry lauded the ruling as belated justice six years after the incident. A ministry statement said Taiwan and the Philippines have worked closely over the matter for years and it is good to see that cooperation bear fruit.
However, the convicted men can still appeal the ruling, so the ministry and Taiwan's representative office in the Philippines indicated they will keep a close watch on future developments.
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