The Taipei District Court has acquitted 22 people who occupied Taiwan’s legislature during the 2014 Sunflower Movement.
The Taipei District Prosecutors Office had charged the defendants with offences including obstructing an officer in the discharge of duties and incitement to commit an offence.
The defendants included prominent student leader Lin Fei-fan, lawmaker Huang Kuo-chang, and pro-independence activist Tsay Ting-kuei, who led some 400 students to occupy the Legislative Yuan between March 18 and April 10, 2014.
“From a constitutional and a democratic perspective, this sentence affirms civic participation and the civic spirit,” wrote Huang on Facebook in response to the verdict.
On Friday, Taipei District Court Presiding Judge Liao Chien-yu delivered a press conference, reported Apple Daily. He said that the defendants’ actions met the criteria for “civil disobedience,” that there was an appropriate reason for their actions, and this did not constitute illegality.
The prosecution has not yet announced whether it would appeal the ruling.
The students began the occupation of Taipei’s Legislative Yuan in March 2014 in protest of the then-ruling Kuomintang government’s controversial review of a trade pact with mainland China. Ignoring calls for a clause-by-clause review, the legislature completed the task within 30 seconds on March 17, and was set to submit the pact for a final vote on March 21.
The Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement had been concluded in 2013 between quasi-governmental organisations in Taiwan and mainland China – as the two governments do not recognise one another.
Supporters argued that the pact would grant Taiwanese service sector businesses and workers access to the Chinese market. Opponents feared for the impact on Taiwan’s domestic economy given the unequal size of the markets across the straits, and a potential outbound flow of Chinese capital.
黃國昌林飛帆陳為廷無罪 → goo.gl/1fTCvO
Publié par 中央社新聞粉絲團 sur jeudi 30 mars 2017
More than 500,000 joined the protests following the occupation of the legislature. After the Kuomintang government agreed to postpone the review, the students left the building on April 10.
Two further series of trials related to the Sunflower Movement are currently ongoing.
Last December, four protesters received short-term imprisonment sentences after demonstrations broke out surrounding a Taipei police station on April 11, 2014. They are appealing their sentences.
Another 21 protesters will receive their verdicts in April 2017 following an attempt to occupy Taiwan’s Executive Yuan – the executive branch – on March 23, 2014.