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June 7, 2019: Response from the Ministry of Justice about the Scottish High Court’s decision not to extradite Zain Dean to serve his sentence
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Zain Dean was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to four years in jail by the court in Taiwan. Due to Zain Dean absconding to Scotland after being released on bail, Taiwan officially requested to extradite him to Britain in 2013. Although the Edinburgh District Court ruled that Zain Dean should be deported, the Scottish High Court still rejected Taiwan’s request. On 28 September 2017, the Supreme Court of Britain remanded the case to the Scottish High Court, and the three original judges tried the case. The Supreme Court believed that Taiwan is a developed country that has the tradition of respect for the rule of law. It will definitely keep the promise to take reasonable mechanism to maintain Zain Dean’s safety and not violate the requirement of Art.3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. However, the legality of the extradition order, which Zain Dean argued issued by the Scottish Secretary of Justice, hasn’t been discussed in the ruling, so the Supreme Court ordered a retrial. Unfortunately, the Scottish High Court still refused to grant the extradition with a majority of two to one opinions on 6 June 2019. The Ministry respects the independent trial of the Scottish High Court but regrets the result of the judgment.
From September 2017 to December 2018, the Scottish High Court has held 12 sessions. In addition to discussing countermeasures with the Scottish prosecutor before the trial, the Ministry actively provided relevant information required, overcame the time difference between Taiwan and Britain, and kept in touch with the Scottish prosecutor and Taipei Representative Office U.K., Edinburgh office at any time.
The main point of discussion in this 12-time sessions is whether Taiwan can obey the Specialty Doctrine stipulated in Art.11 of the special extradition memorandum, if Britain grants to extradite Zain Dean serve his sentence in Taiwan, Taiwan may not prosecute him for violating Immigration Act. The significant opinions of the Scottish High Court concluded that the specific provisions in the MOU were insufficient and there is no stipulation on the principle of specificity in the Taiwan Code of Criminal Procedure. The Scottish High Court has doubts about Taiwan’s commitment to comply with the clause. However, the special extradition MOU was signed by the competent authorities of both Taiwan and Britain. The Edinburgh District Court and the Scottish Ministry of Justice never questioned the legality of the MOU, and Taiwan has repeatedly stated that the principle of specificity will be obeyed. One judge in the collegiate bench issued different opinions to declare that Taiwan has a good reputation, so the Zain Dean’s appeal should be rejected. From this, it is enough to recognize that Taiwan’s claim is indeed reasonable, but unfortunately, it didn’t receive significant support.
However, this case is not unsuccessful. The British court recognized our country's high judicial power and affirmed that our judicial decisions are in line with the fair trial procedure. Even though Taiwan is not listed in the first and second category of Crime (International Co-operation) Act of the U.K., the fact that Britain agreed to sign an MOU on the extradition of Zain Dean with Taiwan led Taiwan to have the legal base to request extradition to Britain and created an opportunity and model for cooperation between two sides in the future. Moreover, fugitive offenders will know that Taiwan has the eligibility and ability to make a request of extradition to any country.
Taiwan’s civil judgment of this case was also recognized by the British court and was not enforced because Zain Dean’s property can’t be found. The Ministry has repeatedly announced a message that we hope Zain Dean could fulfill the liability for damages to the victims and apologize publicly. Still, he didn’t propose any specific compensation plan. Zain Dean was arrested and detained by the British for two years and ten months. If Zain Dean serves his sentence in Taiwan, he may become eligible for parole two years and eight months later. This case can also be said to have achieved judicial justice to a considerable extent. When the Scottish High Court retried the case, it didn’t accuse the situation of Taiwan’s prisons in violation of Art.3 of the European Convention on Human Rights anymore. Therefore, if Taiwan files a request for extradition to other countries in Europe someday, the situation of prison in Taiwan will not be used against Taiwan anymore.
This case is the first one in which Taiwan officially submitted an extradition request to a foreign. In the process of this case, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Representative Office all have obtained valuable practical experience in extradition. The Ministry worked with the Scottish prosecutors well so that the Ministry was recommended to become an observer and a contact point for the European Judicial Network. That made cooperation between Taiwan and European countries more smooth.
The Sottish High Court ruled that because the Scottish Secretary of Justice’s extradition order is deficient, extradition should be rejected. The High Court didn’t state Edinburgh District Court’s judgment was illegal. Therefore, only the Scottish Ministry of Justice has the right to appeal, and the Scottish prosecutors couldn’t appeal on behalf of the Ministry of Justice of Taiwan. However, the Ministry will keep working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Representative Office, to promote the Scottish Ministry of Justice to appeal and fight for Zain Dean's extradition to return to Taiwan.