Kuomintang Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅) was arrested last night ahead of a scheduled court appearance today to answer charges of involvement in an unauthorized protest in 2004 against the presidential election outcome.
At 10:40 p.m., the lawmaker was taken away in a police van that was waiting for him outside the TVBS where he was one of the regular commentators on a primetime program "Speaking Your Mind at 2100."
Scores of supporters were on hand to show sympathy for Chiu and condemned the arrest as political persecution. The police said Chiu would spend the night at the Taipei District Prosecutor's Office and would be sent to the Kaohsuing District Court to answer charges on his role in the illegal protest outside the court on March 20, 2004.
The arrest was a result of a warrant issued by the court earlier this week, as Chiu had repeatedly ignored summonses to appear for the hearing of the case. The court had made 20 requests for Chiu to testify, but he put in only nine appearances.
Last Friday, the lawmaker again failed to respond to a subpoena, prompting the court to issue the arrest warrant that allowed the police to forcibly bring him for today's hearing.
Chiu, who was seen on March 20, 2004 standing atop a truck that was trying to crash through the courthouse's front gate, was indicted last April for leading the illegal protest. But the lawmaker disputed the charges, claiming that it was the truck's driver, not him, who made the decision to ram the courthouse entrance.
Chiu drew parallels between himself and several tragic Chinese heroes, saying that the warrant was the result of political persecution by the Democratic Progressive Party government in revenge for his exposure of several scandals that had seriously tainted the administration's image.
Early yesterday, Chiu claimed that he knew prosecutors and police would arrest him last night under the instructions of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).
"Chen Shui-bian's would order my arrest before the Lunar New Year's eve, when every family is having a reunion," Chiu told reporters yesterday morning.
Chiu also shared with reporters his prediction of the details of his arrest.
According to the lawmaker, first, the police would take him away at TVBS soon after he finished recording the talk show, then he would be made to stay overnight in a detention center, he said. The police would take him to board a plane to Kaohsiung on Friday morning for the court hearing there, he added.
Chiu announced the reinstatement of his KMT membership Tuesday, in what is seen as a preliminary move in his bid for the Kaohsiung mayor seat at end of this year.