South Korean burglary suspect denied habeas corpus petition

Taipei--The Taipei District Court denied Monday a habeas corpus appeal by a South Korean man who was arrested a day earlier in New Taipei for breaking into the headquarters of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and stealing cash.

Cho Jun-ki was apprehended in an empty building in Wulai District, New Taipei Sunday after he was identified as a person of interest in the burglary that took place on Aug. 1, according to the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB).

Cho asked for a writ of habeas corpus Sunday evening while being questioned at the District Prosecutors Office.

Cho filed the petition because he believed the arrest was not legal after he expressed his intention to give himself up and walked out with his hands raised, but was still brought down by a crowd of policemen and shown to the press for photographs, according to prosecutors.

Under Taiwan's Habeas Corpus Act, anyone arrested or detained by an organ other than by a decision of the court, has the right to petition for habeas corpus.

Habeas corpus is a writ (court order) that commands an individual or a government official who has restrained another to produce the detainee or prisoner at a designated time and place so that the court can determine the legality of custody and decide whether to order the release of the detainee or prisoner.

The court should address the petition with 24 hours of receiving it. If the court determines after a probe that no arrest or detention should be made, the petitioner should be released.

If the arrest or detention is determined to be necessary, the petition will be denied, according to the act, which was revised in late 2013. The revised version became effective in July 2014.

The Taipei District Court determined that Cho's arrest is in line with legal procedure, because while apprehending the suspect, police held a warrant for his arrest.

Cho also confessed his guilt during questioning, the court said.

The court denied the petition and sent Cho back to the District Prosecutors office.

The Taipei District Prosecutors Office was scheduled to question Cho later that day.

According to police and prosecutors, Cho is a fugitive wanted in several countries, including South Korea and the Philippines. He flew to Taiwan July 31 and is suspected of having stolen NT$90,000 (US$2,984) from the DPP's Taipei headquarters the following day.

That same day, Cho took a flight to Japan, but was denied entry over visa issues and deported back to Taiwan Aug. 3. He then managed to escape border checks at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and fled in a taxi.

Following a tip-off, police found Cho in New Taipei's Wulai District and arrested him there.

CIB officer Chen Ming-chun (???) said they found that Cho's burglary of the DPP headquarters was a spontaneous act and that he spent most of the money he stole on lodging and flight tickets.

The CIB is investigating whether Cho has Taiwanese accomplices, Chen said.

Surveillance footage shows a man entering the DPP headquarters building's 8th-floor offices, which had been left unlocked, for approximately 10 minutes, and leaving without taking any files, computers or other equipment, the DPP said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel