Heavier punishments being considered in Apache case

By Stephanie Chao, The China Post

Lt. Col. Lao Nai-cheng (�ҤD��) and 14 civilians who took part in a visit to an Apache helicopter base led by Lao were listed as defendants in the case yesterday and Lao could face a 7-year jail term, according to the Taoyuan Prosecutors Office.

In the second stage of investigations by prosecutors, Lao revealed that a Japanese national and five foreign workers were among the visiting group, bringing the current total of people involved to 27, said prosecutors. The laws that Lao allegedly violated include the Classified National Security Information Protection Act (���a���K�O�@�k), the Vital Area Regulations (�n�����|�a�a�k), the Criminal Code of the Armed Forces (�����ŭx�D�k), disclosure of secret information under the Criminal Code (�D�k���K�o), and intentional information concealment (���θo). Lao was bailed for NT$500,000 and banned from leaving the country.

Authorities said the Ministry of National Defense (MND, �꨾��) still needs to provide an interpretation of the regulations violated.

Heavier and expanded punishments for those involved will also be considered, officials said. Five Foreign Workers Involved

Among the group of 27 people, six were foreign nationals, including a Japanese man who is reportedly the boyfriend of Lao’s sister-in-law, and five others whose nationalities have not yet been confirmed.

Authorities have not decided to summon the foreign nationals for investigation and will research statements and security camera footage for clarification first.

Military officials reported that Lao had only listed 20 people in the visitors’ book on March 29 and failed to reveal the other six people during the initial investigations. Lao admitted there were other foreign nationals among the visitors after the authorities began to interview the group members separately.

Lao, who reportedly smuggled an interactive helmet out of military premises to a Halloween party last year and took 27 people on a tour of a military base, will face a number of charges, including under the Criminal Code of the Armed Forces for leaking military secrets, authorities said. In-depth Investigation Underway: Kao Minister for National Defense Kao Kuang-chi (���s��) yesterday ordered the Executive Office of the Minister, Political Warfare Bureau and Civil Service Ethics Office to put together an investigation team and launch an in-depth investigation.

Kao said that while most of the details of the case have been clarified, initial investigations were still based on the transcripts of the interviews with the people involved. For further clarification of the facts of the case, Kao said that an in-depth investigation will have to be held.

Heavier punishments for the second list of people involved will also be considered, the Army said. The second list is scheduled to be published today.