TAIWAN: Fake video makers indicted

Prosecutors indict TVBS reporters for fabricating gangster threat video

Taipei Times
Saturday, July 28, 2007

By Jimmy Chuang

Taichung prosecutors yesterday indicted Chou Cheng-pao and two TVBS reporters over a fabricated gangster threat video that was broadcast in March.

Prosecutors are seeking a two-year sentence for Chou and one-year sentences for TVBS' central Taiwan correspondents Chang Yu-kun and Shih Chen-kang.

Charges dropped

Prosecutor Chen Chung-jung decided to drop the charges against high-ranking TVBS employees -- including general manager Lee Tao, deputy general manager Li Si-duan, news director Pan Tzu-yin and deputy news director Sun Chia-juei -- as he believed they had no prior knowledge of Chou, Chang and Shih's plan to make the bogus video.

"During questioning prosecutors discovered that Chou allegedly contacted Chang and Shih regarding his plan to make the video threat against one of his rivals. Chang and Shih agreed to work with him because they were under pressure to dig up scoops," said Chang Hung-mo, spokesman for the Taichung District Prosecutors' Office.

"Prosecutors also discovered that TVBS management had no idea about the three defendants' plan throughout the entire process. So we decided to drop the charges against them," he said.

Ethics breached

Chang said although the station's management had nothing to do with the crime, they had breached journalistic ethics.

"For this they were punished by the National Communications Commission. It is not the responsibility of prosecutors or within our authority," Chang said.

The video first came to light on March 26 when it was sent by Chou to local TV news stations.

Threats

In the video, Chou, 33, stood next to a table with a number of pistols and rifles threatening to shoot rival "gangster" Liu Jui-jung, who Chou claimed was his "enemy."

Chou called Liu "a chicken" and alleged that members of Liu's gang were responsible for the shooting of "gangster boss" Lin Chen-hsing who was shot and killed in early March.

Chou also admitted in the video that he was behind three shootings in the Taichung area.

Chou was arrested on March 29. Police then discovered the video had been filmed by Shih.