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15 listed as potential defendants in Apache tour probe

15 listed as potential defendants in Apache tour probe

Taipei, April 6 (CNA) A total of 15 people on Monday were listed as potential defendants in an investigation into allegations that a group of civilians were taken to visit an AH-64E Apache attack helicopter in violation of regulations on visitors to military bases. Twelve of the 15 potential defendants were summoned for questioning on Sunday, including Apache helicopter pilot Lt. Col. Lao Nai-cheng (???), TV host Janet Lee (???) and her husband, Lao's wife Chiu Ya-ching (???), and Lao's sister-in-law Chiu Ya-chi (???), who were involved in the March 29 visit.
Lao was released early Monday morning on NT$500,000 (US$16,150) bail and the 11 others were released without having to put up bail.
The three potential defendants not questioned were Lao's brother-in-law Jerry Chiu (???) and his wife Joanna Wang (???), who flew to the United States on March 31, and Chiu Po-han (???), another of Lao's brothers-in-law, who left for Hong Kong on April 3. Taoyuan prosecutors said Lao may have violated laws such as the Vital Area Regulations and the Classified National Security Information Protection Act, and divulged secrets in violation of the Criminal Code of the Republic of China and the Criminal Code of the Armed Forces. The prosecutors said they will also check the statements of the potential defendants and surveillance images to find out whether the six foreign nationals involved in the case entered the hangar that houses the Apache helicopters. According to prosecutors, Lao took a group of 26 relatives and friends, including a Japanese man and five foreign domestic helpers, on a tour of his base in Longtan District in Taoyuan on March 29. Without his superiors' approval, Lao gave his visitors access to the base's AH-64E Apaches, the Army's most advanced attack helicopter, and even allowed them to board one of the choppers and take photos, prosecutors found. Lee posted four photos of the Army base tour on her Facebook page, including one of her in one of the choppers' cockpits, sparking the investigation of the case and drawing media criticism for the loose security in Taiwan's military. The military responded immediately by giving Lao a major demerit on April 3 and removing him from his post as the deputy head of a helicopter squadron under the Army Special Forces Command. Four other officers were also punished at that time. The Ministry of National Defense assembled a special task force on Monday to launch a further investigation into the Apache controversy. The ministry also asked the Army to reconsider its planned second round of disciplinary action against those involved in the case, which one military official said could result in broader and heavier punishments than previously expected. (By Chiu Chun-chin, Bien Chin-feng, Wang Chao-yu, Lu Hsin-hui and Jeffrey Wu)


Updated : 2021-09-23 19:16 GMT+08:00