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Reform could rekindle debate over defector's intended return

Reform could rekindle debate over defector's intended return

Taipei, Aug. 12 (CNA) The reform of Taiwan's military justice system could re-open the debate over whether to allow the return of one of the country's best-known defectors, even though officials refused to be drawn out on the issue Monday. The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) will wait until after it has received all related legal documents to decide whether Justin Lin, a former senior vice president of the World Bank, is still considered a fugitive by Taiwan's authorities, the officials said. Lin, 60, swam from the frontline bastion of Kinmen to China's Xiamen Island in 1979, when he was a captain in Taiwan's Army. Defection to an enemy state is punishable by death, life imprisonment or a minimum of 10 years in prison according to the Criminal Code of the Armed Forces. The law's statute of limitations sets the period of prosecution at 20 years but the Ministry of National Defense (MND) has maintained that Lin should continue to be listed as a fugitive as he has been in a constant state of defection. The MND's position has prevented Lin from fulfilling his wish to visit his hometown of Yilan in northeastern Taiwan. With the newly adopted reform, however, the MOJ and a civilian court will get to decide whether the warrant for Lin's arrest has expired, the officials said. The Legislative Yuan recently passed amendments to the Code of Court Martial Procedure that allow crimes committed by military personnel during peacetime to be tried in civilian courts. Lin's case would be part of a group that would be handed over to the civilian justice system five months after the amended law takes effect, expected to be later this month. Meanwhile, Control Yuan member Yeh Yao-peng said Monday that the argument for keeping Lin on the wanted list is "tenuous" and "an encroachment of human rights." Now that the law has been amended, Yeh said he would begin another investigation into the matter with the goal of correcting any mistakes that may have been committed on the part of the government. The Control Yuan is the branch of government responsible for monitoring and censuring inappropriate behavior by public officials and government agencies. (By Lin Chang-shun and Jay Chen)


Updated : 2021-02-28 15:10 GMT+08:00