Taichung parents criticize sentence for 12-year-old

The China Post staff

More than 20 parent representatives from six junior high schools visited the office of Taichung District Prosecutor chief Ju Nan yesterday morning to express their support for a junior high student who was found guilty on charge of endangering public safety.

Ho Min-hao, the Taichung City Parents Association chairman, said he considered prosecutor Wu Wen-chung was too harsh in his sentencing of the student, surnamed Fan.

According to Ho, the incident occurred at 9.05 a.m. on July 25, when the 12-year-old student of Kuang Ming Junior High was playing ball with his classmates.

Fan’s classmate failed to catch the tennis ball which then landed in the yard of the prosecutor’s residential complex.

A guard picked up the ball and reported the case to the prosecutor Wu Wen-chung who then contacted the police.

As Fan admitted he had accidentally overshot the ball, the police insisted Fan be referred to the station for interrogation.

Ho Min-hao stated the police interrogation of Fan without the company of other adults was a violation of the law.

Fan’s mother, Liao Yu-yen, who arrived at the station at 10.40 a.m, said the police refused to tell her what had her son had been arrested for.

She also claims to have persuaded to sign her name on police records.

Parent representatives said they felt an inappropriate legal procedure had occurred.

Some representatives said they felt Wu went overboard when he called the police to “arrest” the student, adding he had actually abused public power.

Parents said the sentence will discourage students to play balls in the school campus.

In response, the Taichung District Prosecutor’s Office Chief Ju Nan said that Wu actively dealt with the case in his capacity as a resident leader.

Wu had said that he decided to take action against the overshoot as similar incidents had occurred again and again in the past. No improvement was made, despite Wu having asked school authorities to help restrain the students.

As the school building and the prosecutor’s residence area are separated by 40 meters, Ju Nan also said a ball couldn’t have landed at the dormitory if the student did not intentionally overshoot it.

Ju said he hoped the case would be a positive learning experience for the students, adding that the criminal record would not affect the Fan’s future as it would be eliminated at the end of three years.

However, Fan’s mother said he had been seriously traumatized by the sentence and suffered nightmares in which he was jailed.

“The sentence will deprive Fan of his carefree life for the next three years as he needs to report to the police for labor work every Sunday,” she said.

In related news, the Children’s Bureau of the Interior Ministry issued a news release yesterday to support the injustice done to Fan.

“Children’s welfare is still an issue which is neglected by the government,” the release said.

Related government authorities will be urged to examine children’s welfare issues in the near future, it is said.