Focus Taiwan App

Supreme Court overturns Bunun man's illegal hunting convictions

03/14/2024 08:50 PM
To activate the text-to-speech service, please first agree to the privacy policy below.
Tama Talum. CNA file photo
Tama Talum. CNA file photo

Taipei, March 14 (CNA) The Supreme Court on Thursday erased illegal firearm and poaching convictions from the record of Tama Talum, a Bunun man pardoned by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) whose case has pinballed around Taiwan's legal system for nearly a decade.

In its verdict, the court threw out Tama Talum's 2015 convictions for possession of an illegal firearm and killing a protected Taiwan serow during a hunt he went on in 2013 to get meat for his elderly mother.

Regarding the firearms conviction, the court said the Controlling Guns, Ammunition and Knives Act's references to Indigenous people's "self-made hunting guns" should also be understood to include hunting guns made by a third party for use by an Indigenous person, as was the case with Tama Talum.

Meanwhile, the court said that the Wildlife Conservation Act's Article 18 provisions on protected wildlife do not apply to Indigenous hunters, whose right to hunt on traditional lands is guaranteed elsewhere in the Act, as well as in the Indigenous Peoples Basic Law.

The ruling brings to an end a legal saga that began with Tama Talum's conviction and sentencing to three and a half years in prison in 2015.

Later that year, the Supreme Prosecutors Office filed an extraordinary appeal to the Supreme Court to hear the case, which in turn referred it for an interpretation by the Constitutional Court in 2017.

In 2021, the Constitutional Court issued a mixed ruling on the case, reaffirming the constitutionality of requiring Indigenous people to use only traditional "self-made" firearms and apply for permission before going on a hunt.

The court also nullified some overly burdensome administrative requirements for Indigenous people going on "non-regular" hunts and instructed the Legislature to revise certain rules on how "self-made" guns are defined.

Soon after the court's ruling, Tsai issued a presidential pardon for Tama Talum, thus exempting him from serving prison time but not erasing his criminal convictions.

Following the Constitutional Court ruling, the Supreme Court declined the original appeal to hear the case.

The Supreme Court, however, reversed course and decided to accept a subsequent extraordinary appeal filed after current Prosecutor-General Hsing Tai-chao (邢泰釗) took office in 2022, leading to its ruling on Thursday.

Speaking to reporters from his home in Taitung, Tama Talum thanked the judges, his lawyers, and supporters, saying he was "thrilled" to see the case come to a close.

During the interview, Tama Talum walked into another room to look at a photograph of his mother, who died of COVID-19 at age 100 in June 2022.

"I'm not guilty," he said.

(By Hsieh Hsing-en and Mathew Mazzetta)


    We value your privacy.
    Focus Taiwan (CNA) uses tracking technologies to provide better reading experiences, but it also respects readers' privacy. Click here to find out more about Focus Taiwan's privacy policy. When you close this window, it means you agree with this policy.