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Time running out for courts in food giant scion's detention

Time running out for courts in food giant scion's detention

Taipei, May 2 (CNA) The Taiwan High Court's Tainan branch on Wednesday upheld a life sentence plus a fine of NT$5 million (US$170,648) for a scion of the renowned Vedan Enterprise Corp. in a retrial, although according to the law, he will become eligible for release May 19. Although Yang Shih-ming, 41, is expected to appeal the result of the retrial -- his eighth -- on drug-smuggling charges to the Supreme Court, he will likely be released irrespective of the appeal ruling, as Article 5 of the Speedy Criminal Trial Act means his release is almost certainly assured. The article, which will take effect May 19, stipulates that defendants in criminal cases should be released if they have not yet received final convictions after having been held in detention for eight years. Yang, who has been detained since May 7, 2004, will meet the eight-year detention requirement May 6. A third-generation member of the family that founded Vedan, Yang was convicted and sentenced to life in his first trial on charges of smuggling 30.2 kg of heroin to Taiwan from Vietnam in January 2004. The Yunlin Prosecutors Office appealed the verdict and Yang was given the death penalty in the second trial and again in a first retrial. In a second retrial, High Court judges decided to uphold the life sentence handed down in the first trial, on the grounds that his criminal act did not cause grave damage to society since none of the smuggled 100 bricks of heroin had been sold before Yang and his accomplices were arrested. That ruling was upheld in all the follow-up retrials. Yang, himself a drug abuser, has denied throughout the judicial proceedings being a mastermind behind the drug smuggling case. He has also insisted that he never sold contraband drugs. He has argued consistently that he was involved only in packaging and shipping the heroin from Vietnam to the southern Taiwan port of Kaohsiung concealed in shipments of frozen octopus. Yang's accomplices Hou Kuo-chu and Wang Ching-tsai have confessed to their roles in helping Yang ship the heroin -- bought from traffickers in Laos -- back to Taiwan. Yang was given a 15-year prison sentence plus a NT$5 million fine, while Wang was sentenced to 13 years and a NT$2 million fine. Media reports said that although Yang was once sent to Vietnam to explore business opportunities for his family, he has never officially worked for Vedan. (By Chang Jung-hsiang and Sofia Wu)


Updated : 2021-05-08 01:38 GMT+08:00