No charges for 15 in­volved in Apache scan­dal: pros­e­cu­tors

The China Post - - LOCAL - BY JOSEPH YEH

Pros­e­cu­tors yesterday de­cided not to press charges against any of the 15 in­di­vid­u­als listed as po­ten­tial de­fen­dants in a high-pro­file case where a group of civil­ians, led by a mil­i­tary chop­per pi­lot, en­tered an Army base in March to take pho­to­graphs of an AH-64E Apache he­li­copter with­out un­der­go­ing proper pro­ce­dures.

Cit­ing a lack of ev­i­dence prov­ing that any of the po­ten­tial de­fen­dants, in­clud­ing pi­lot Lt. Col. Lao Nai-cheng ( ) and lo­cal TV per­son­al­ity Janet Lee ( ), had vi­o­lated laws and leaked con­fi­den­tial na­tional se­cu­rity in­for­ma­tion, the Taoyuan Dis­trict Pros­e­cu­tors Of­fice said they de­cided not to in­dict them.

The con­tro­ver­sial visit took place on March 29 at the Army Avi­a­tion Spe­cial Forces 601st Brigade in Taoyuan, where Lao was found to have al­lowed Lee and other civil­ians ac­cess to the AH-64E Apache, and even al­lowed them to sit in­side the cock­pit to take pho­to­graphs.

The case came to light af­ter Lee posted photos of the tour on her Face­book page, draw­ing media crit­i­cism of loose se­cu­rity in Tai­wan’s mil­i­tary.

It was also later dis­cov­ered that Lao had not re­turned an Apache flight hel­met af­ter a train­ing mis­sion last Oc­to­ber, but had worn it as part of a Hal­loween cos­tume at a party at his home. Lao, the for­mer deputy head of a he­li­copter squadron in the brigade, has since been re­moved from his post and is cur­rently un­der sus­pen­sion.

More than 20 se­nior mil­i­tary of­fi­cers were also given ad­min­is­tra­tive pun­ish­ments by the Army over neg­li­gence in over­see­ing Lao, fol­low­ing the in­ci­dent.

The Taoyuan Dis­trict Pros­e­cu­tors Of­fice later launched its own probe and listed 15 in­di­vid­u­als as po­ten­tial de­fen­dants to check whether any vi­o­lated reg­u­la­tions on visi­tors to mil­i­tary bases.

The pros­e­cu­tors yesterday said they could not in­dict these peo­ple be­cause the 601st Brigade is not listed as a vi­tal area by the Min­istry of Na­tional De­fense (MND).

There­fore, those in­volved did not vi­o­late laws such as the Vi­tal Area Reg­u­la­tions and the Clas­si­fied Na­tional Se­cu­rity In­for­ma­tion Pro­tec­tion Act, even though they did in­deed take photos of the AH-64E Apache he­li­copter dur­ing the trip.

With re­gard to Lao’s ac­tions in tak­ing his hel­met home, pros­e­cu­tors said that as a chop­per pi­lot, he is en­ti­tled to do so.

MND’s Re­spect and Grat­i­tude

Asked to com­ment, the MND yes- ter­day ex­pressed grat­i­tude and said it has full re­spect for the pros­e­cu­tors’ de­ci­sion not to in­dict any of those in­volved.

Mil­i­tary spokesman Luo Shao-ho ( ) thanked the Taoyuan pros­e­cu­tors for con­duct­ing a thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the case, which ul­ti­mately found that no one had vi­o­lated laws dur­ing the con­tro­ver­sial visit.

How­ever, he noted that mil­i­tary per­sonal should set higher moral stan­dards and should learn from the in­ci­dent even though they were later found not to be in vi­o­la­tion of re­lated laws.

The in­ci­dent se­verely dam­aged the im­age of the R.O.C. Armed Forces as a whole and there­fore the MND re­spects the Army Com­mand’s de­ci­sion to sus­pend Lao and levy pun­ish­ments on other mil­i­tary per­son­nel be­cause of the in­ci­dent, he said.

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