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Recreating the Incident, Looking into Possible Negligence

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To investigate related personnel for any negligence on their part regarding the hostage-taking incident by 6 armed inmates from 15:15 p.m., February 11 to 5:50 a.m., February 12, 2015 at the Kaohsiung Prison, Agency of Corrections, Ministry of Justice, (MJAC) was instructed by the Ministry of Justice to clarify actions taken by personnel at Kaohsiung Prison in their handling of the incident – interviewing related personnel, demanding an incident report from Kaohsiung Prison, examining surveillance videos for key places, testing prison security facilities, investigating the scene, inspecting related documents and simulating the course of events. On February 13, 2015, the MJAC released a preliminary Investigation Report on the Incident of Armed Inmates Holding the Warden and the Head of Guard and Control Section as Hostages at Kaohsiung Prison, Agency of Corrections, Ministry of Justice, and, on February 17, the Review of Security Management and Measures for Improvement of Correctional Institutions under the Agency of Corrections, Ministry of Justice was presented. In the meantime, the MJAC continued to investigate around the clock and on February 26, 2015, presented the final results of the follow-up investigation.  Following close examination, one-by-one, by the Agency of Corrections, it was found that there was indeed major negligence on the part of staff at the Kaohsiung Prison, such as being negligent with body searches, lacking crisis awareness, misjudging the situation and its development, the breakdown of the command system, and a lack of coordination. However, there were still staff who stayed active, took responsibility, remained calm in the face of crisis, reacted immediately, helped to evacuate people and promptly sealed off passageways. Therefore, rewards and punishments were determined accordingly.  For a 30-minute period, starting from the stabbing of guards and the seizing of the master key by inmates at 15:38 p.m., February 11, 2015 to the time of 16:09 p.m., Kaohsiung Prison Warden Chen Shih-chih was completely unaware of the major incident that was taking place in the prison, which showed his incompetence in leadership and a breakdown of command structure. Having failed to get hold of the situation and to handle it early on, which led to a major security incident, he was clearly unqualified for his position as the head of a correctional institution and was demoted to section head by the Ministry of Justice. Lai Cheng-jung, the deputy warden, misestimated the situation and failed to properly deploy the supporting police force to resolve the crisis, resulting in the seizure of guns and ammunitions by the inmates to lead to a major security incident. Lai was also found to be unsuitable for his position as the deputy head of a correctional institution and was demoted to senior administrator. Head of the Guard and Control Section Wang Shih-tsang did not report the incident to the prison warden as required and failed to send police quickly to prevent the destruction of the armory, resulting in inmates obtaining weapons and allowing them to easily hold the warden and others as hostages. He was deemed incompetent for his position as head guard and was reassigned as the director of general affairs for the Ming Yang High School.  With regard to the request by MJAC Director Wu Sen-chang for disciplinary action against himself, giving consideration that the hostage takeover at the Kaohsiung Prison was an isolated, unexpected incident and the prison authority itself was supposed to take charge of resolving the crisis promptly and also taking into account that Director Wu left for the prison immediately after being informed to oversee the handling of the incident, disregarded his own personal safety to voluntarily accompany family members into the car inspection station in an attempt to communicate with the inmates – only to be turned back at the re-inspection station by the inmates with shots fired and only then communicated patiently with the inmates over internal phone call to try to keep them calm – and jointly deliberated on the responding strategy with the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors Office, the National Police Agency, the Kaohsiung City Police Department, and others, following discussion by the Personnel Selection and Performance Evaluation Committee of the Ministry of Justice, Director Wu was found to have bravely faced the crisis and done his utmost to handle the situation. However, disciplinary actions were still imposed against Director Wu, MJAC Deputy Director Chiu Hung-chi, and Head of the Security and Supervision Division Huang Kun-chien for their supervisory liability. Chief Prosecutor Tsai Jui-tsung, Head Prosecutor Chen Chun-hsiu and Prosecutor Lin Chun-chieh of the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors Office were at the scene to direct operations and negotiated with the inmates to try to reassure them as Head Prosecutor Chen talked relentlessly with the inmates at least 30 times during the hostage-taking incident. These three individuals, whose contributions cannot go unnoticed, worked hard and tirelessly to resolve the crisis. However, because the Judges Act forbids rewarding prosecutors, the Ministry of Justice will publicly praise them through other means at another time.

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