Taiwanese-American fined NT$120,000 for dodging draft for 16 years

Dual citizen Taiwanese-American arrested and fined NT$120,000 for dodging draft for 16 years

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Taiwanese soldiers.

Taiwanese soldiers. (By Wikimedia Commons)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- A Taiwanese-American man with dual citizenship has been fined NT$120,000 (US$3,885) for dodging the draft for 16 years, reported Liberty Times.

The 35-year-old man, surnamed Tsai (蔡), was arrested at an airport in Taiwan in October when he tried to enter the country with his U.S. passport, in an attempt to evade detection as a wanted draft dodger.

According to a police investigation, Tsai was born in the United States to Taiwanese parents, had dual citizenship and studied in the U.S. for many years. Over a decade ago, Tsai was registered as having left the country with a Taiwan passport, and after the National Conscription Agency (NCA) served him a draft notice in 2002, there was no record of him returning to the country on that passport again.

When the NCA contacted Tsai's parents about his whereabouts, they claimed they lost contact with him and did not know of his circumstances in the U.S. The NCA then transferred his case to the Prosecutor's Office on charges of breaching the Act Governing the Punishment of Offenses Against Military Service (妨害兵役治罪條例) and a search began.

Prosecutors found that Tsai's parents had opened credit card accounts in his name, which he was suspected of frequently using to make purchases in the U.S. Following further investigation, prosecutors found that Tsai's English first name is Michael and after comparing thousands of documents, a man with the same first name was found to have the identical birth date as Tsai.

Prosecutors discovered that Tsai would enter the country once or twice a year under his English name on his U.S. passport. The reason he listed for traveling to Taiwan was "visiting relatives" and the contact address listed was his parent's home.

In addition, the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) analyzed photos taken of Michael when he entered customs and they found they closely matched those of Tsai. Authorities then issued a warrant for Tsai's arrest.

When Tsai entered customs at an airport in October of this year, he was arrested by aviation police on the spot. When questioned by police, Tsai denied dodging the draft claiming that he had not contacted his parents before returning to Taiwan for the first time in over a decade.

However, after prosecutors showed evidence of his multiple entries and exits to and from Taiwan, Tsai could no longer argue he was ignorant of the draft notice and confessed to the crime. Tsai claimed that he was studying art in the U.S. and he could not find a job in that field in Taiwan, so he decided to stay in the U.S. as a university lecturer.

Considering that he had no prior criminal record and the circumstances of the crime were minor, Tsai was fined NT$120,000 in exchange for deferring prosecution for one year. Tsai reportedly now only needs to serve one year of alternative civilian service.

Tsai then asked to be allowed to return to the U.S. to apply for academic credentials, but he was denied his request by the prosecutor for fear that he would try to flee the country, and an American friend was entrusted with handling the matter on his behalf.

According to the NCA website, adult Taiwanese males with multiple nationalities living overseas who have been drafted must still serve in the military when they return to the Taiwan, even if they enter the country on a foreign passport. Their exit from the country is also restricted until they fulfill their military service obligations.

According to the regulations on military service for overseas compatriots, those who have received an Overseas Chinese Identity Certificate (僑居身分加簽), will be called to serve in the military within one year upon returning to Taiwan.