Taiwan drug convict commuted by Thai king


BANGKOK — A Taiwanese drug convict who was originally sentenced to life imprisonment but was later granted a series of commutations by the Thai king was finally released recently and is ready to return home, according to Taiwan’s representative office in Bangkok. The convict, identified only by his family name Yang, was arrested in December 1992 on charges of narcotics trafficking, the representative office said in a statement.

Yang was first given a life sentence. Thanks to his good behavior behind bars, Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej commuted his sentence to 40 years in prison.

With assistance from the representative office, which issued a letter of guarantee on his behalf, Yang’s prison sentence was again reduced by one-third, the statement said, adding that in the following years, Yang received three more rounds of commutations and thus had his prison sentence cut to 15 years and nine months.

According to the statement, Yang, 52, served out his greatly reduced prison term recently. He was jubilant at regaining his freedom, the statement said, adding that the representative office had been busy helping with his paperwork for his return to Taiwan since his release. Yang departed for home Friday evening.

The representative office said another 118 Taiwanese citizens are still serving time in Thai prisons, most of them were convicted of involvement in the narcotics trafficking or drug trade.

Noting that Thailand imposes a stringent ban on narcotics-related crimes, the statement said that any person who is found to be involved in the drug trade or trafficking tends to receive a severe penalty.