PRESS RELEASE: High Court Upholds Conviction

Battery of Robin Winkler by Yunlin County Assembly Speaker Su Jin-huang

Taiwan Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association (台灣蠻野心足生態協會)

TAIPEI (December 30, 2008)--On 7 November 2007, Yunlin County Assembly Speaker Su Jin-huang (蘇金煌) assaulted former Environmental Impact Assessment Committee member Robin Winkler (Wen Lu-bin 文魯彬) at an environmental impact assessment hearing held at the Environmental Protection Agency’s (環保署) Taipei offices. The hearing was held to review the environmental impact of the Formosa Plastics Group’s proposed US$5 billion steel plant in Taisi Township (台西), Yunlin County. In October 2008, Su was convicted of the assault and was sentenced to six months imprisonment convertible to a fine. Both Su and the prosecutor filed appeals with the Taiwan High Court. The High Court today dismissed both appeals and upheld Su’s conviction and sentence by the District Court.

While the Courts of Taiwan have now affirmed Su’s criminal culpability, Wild at Heart is concerned that the media and public do not understood the full truth and significance of what transpired at the Environmental Protection Agency fourteen months ago.

During the District Court trial Su Jinhuang repeatedly declared that he did not hit (da) anyone. During the High Court trial he changed his testimony and stated that "Winkler wanted to shake hands with me, and I mistakenly thought he wanted to hit me. I brushed him away and carelessly injured him." This statement clearly shows that Su made contact with and injured Winkler in direct contradiction of his testimony in his first trial that he did not hit anyone.

Although Winkler suffered considerable emotional distress from the battery and feared for his personal safety given Su’s long criminal record including a conviction for attempted murder for which he was sentenced to seven and half years imprisonment and prosecution for the rape and kidnapping of a minor in 1981, he bears no ill will towards Su Jin-huang and does not seek to have him apologize or pay damages. Winkler nonetheless filed his criminal complaint against Su for the following reasons:

1. to reveal the violence and intimidation that is associated with major development projects in Yunlin County, especially those connected to the Formosa Plastics Group;
2. to expose the negligence and complicity of the Environmental Protection Agency with developers and established local political interests in Yunlin County by allowing a convicted criminal and his associates to assault and batter environmentalists during a public hearing at the Agency’s Taipei headquarters; and
3. to draw the public’s attention to the devastating effects that nearly two decades of industrial projects by Formosa Plastics have had on the environment and society of Yunlin County, traditionally one of Taiwan’s poorest and most agrarian regions. This devastation has been actively aided by local political interests with their organized crime connections and passively abetted by the negligence of Environmental Protection Agency, which not only has utterly failed in its duty to protect the environment of Yunlin County and the health of its people, but also to adequately safeguard the statutory review processes held in its own premises in Taipei.

All Winkler has ever asked from Su is that Su admit that he battered Winkler. Winkler’s real complaint is that the Environmental Protection Agency has failed in its mandate to protect the land and the people of Yunlin County.

For more information, please contact Wild at Heart Attorney George Chen at 0917-257-207 ([email protected]) or Huang Hsin-yi (黃心怡) at 02-2382-5789 ([email protected]).