Students in Australia queried by police after thief’s death

By Joseph Yeh

The China Post–Three Taiwanese students currently traveling in Australia were detained by police after a thief who broke into their residence later alleged died of a heart attack, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday.

The incident occurred two day ago, and the MOFA said its representative office in Australia has sent staff in the southern state of New South Wales to meet with the three students, all of whom are traveling in the region under the working holiday scheme. According to the MOFA, the trio, between the ages of 20 and 25, found their residence broken into by a thief. The three fought with the male thief, an Australian Aboriginal, before pressing him down on the floor and calling the police. When the police arrived, however, the thief was found already passed out and in shock, apparently due to extreme panic over the failed break-in attempt. He was immediately sent to a nearby hospital but was pronounced dead not long after, the MOFA said. Because of their alleged involvement in the thief’s death, the Australian police restricted the movement of the three youths, keeping them in a hotel for further questioning, according to MOFA. They were not under arrest, it added. The move was also done to protect the safety of the three Taiwanese in the fear other aborigines would try to take revenge on them, the MOFA said. The ministry is still looking into the case and is currently offering legal assistance to the students in Australia to safeguard their rights. No Delay in Assistance: MOFA The MOFA also clarified the accusation raised by families of the three students in question that it failed to give timely assistance to them when the trio first called for help to Taiwan’s representative office in Sydney. The MOFA said Sydney is six hours away from the students’ location, or one hour away by plane. So it took them quite some time to get there to offer help right after they received the call in the middle of the night.

Failing to receive a positive response from Taiwan’s representative office there, the families of the three students reportedly called for help to a influential female Taiwanese expatriate surnamed Lee in Australia, according to the Chinese-language United Evening News yesterday. It was with Lee’s help that the MOFA finally decided to offer aid to the three, the report added.