Taiwan report into fisherman's shooting death ready for release

Parallel probes into Taiwanese fisherman's death will find that the Philippine coastguard's fatal gunfire was intentional, news media say

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 June, 2013, 5:58am

Taiwan is ready to announce the results of its investigation into the fatal shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman by the Philippine coastguard last month, a senior official said yesterday.

The Pingtung District Prosecutors Office will publish its findings in the next few days, Taiwan's Deputy Justice Minister, Chen Ming-tong, said in Taipei.

"According to my understanding, the Philippine side has already submitted its investigative results to the Philippine Justice Department," Chen said, adding that the island's authorities had been able to follow the progress of the investigation in the Philippines through Taiwan's representative in Manila.

Hung Shih-cheng, 65, was shot dead on May 9 when the fishing boat he and three crew mates were on sailed into waters where the 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of Taiwan and the Philippines overlap. Taipei and Manila do not have diplomatic ties and ignore each other's EEZ claims.

Taipei demanded a formal apology from Manila, but Manila insisted the shooting was "unintended." Taiwan then retaliated with 11 measures, including a freeze on the hiring of Filipino workers and the imposition of barriers to tourism. The two sides later agreed to launch the parallel probes.

Chen declined to reveal details of the Taiwanese report. But the Central News Agency in Taipei quoted unnamed Taiwanese investigators as saying that the findings showed the shooting was intentional and the personnel held responsible for the fatal shot would be charged with murder by the Pingtung District Prosecutors Office.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported yesterday that the Philippines' National Bureau of Investigation - which had submitted its investigation report to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima - had recommended the filing of criminal charges against the Philippine coastguard personnel involved in the shooting.

It quoted an unnamed source as saying that there was a debate on whether to bring murder charges against the coastguard officer who fired the fatal shot.

Legal experts in Taiwan said that in the absence of an extradition agreement, it was unlikely Manila would agree to send the suspect to Taiwan for trial .