TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A legal motion to dismiss a trial, by eight defendants of the Philippine Coast Guard involved in the 2013 death of a Taiwanese fishermen, has been rejected by a court in Manila.
A presiding judge of the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 15 has refused the “Demurrer to Evidence,” offered by the defendants in October 2018, which was a motion to dismiss the court case because of a lack of evidence.
The judge rejected the argument that there was insufficient evidence in the case, declaring that the prosecution had presented convincing evidence to establish a conspiracy among the defendants.
The decision by the court means that the trial of the eight Coast Guard servicemen, who were implicated in the wrongful death of a Taiwanese fisherman in 2013, will proceed this year.
In May, 2013, the Taiwanese fishing vessel Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 was confronted by the Philippine Coast Guard vessel captained by Cmdr. Arnold de la Cruz, approximately 180 nautical miles southeast from Taiwan’s southern tip, Cape Eluanbi.
CNA reported that the area where the incident occurred was at a point there the fisheries between the two nations overlap.
The Philippine servicemen opened fire indiscriminately on the vessel hitting and killing a 65 year old fisherman, Hung Shih-cheng.
The eight servicemen have been charged with homicide for their role in the incident.
The incident shocked and appalled the Taiwanese public and caused months of diplomatic tension between Manila and Taipei.
The trial proceedings have been delayed because of motions like the “Demurrer of Evidence.” The judge in the case declared that assertions of the defendants should be presented and argued in an official trial setting.
A statement from the presiding Judge Reyes as reported by ABS-CBN.
"Based on the foregoing, there are pieces of evidence which prove that the accused fired upon the Taiwanese vessel GDX No. 28. That in furtherance of the prosecution's theory of conspiracy, all of the accused may be held liable for the crimes as charged, unless, they sufficiently prove the contrary."
If found guilty, defendants will face between 12 and 20 years in prison.