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Tuesday, May 21 2019 @ 10:32 PM UTC

MOFA seeks repatriation of prisoner in Panama

Crime & PunishmentTaipei Times - A glimmer of hope was brought to a 72-year-old Taiwanese ship captain serving a long prison term for murder after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday it had begun negotiations with Panamanian authorities to repatriate him on humanitarian grounds. "The Panamanian government, in principle, has agreed to repatriate captain Tuan Mu to Taiwan to serve the remainder of his prison term," Department of Central and South American Affairs Director-General Simon Ko (柯森耀) told a news briefing. "The ministry has used diplomatic channels to negotiate with the Panamanian government in the hope that captain Tuan Mu can be sent back to Taiwan as soon as possible," Ko said. (more)

STOWAWAYS' DEATHS

Tuan Mu Wei-kai, captain of the Panamanian-registered Taiwanese freighter Well Pescadores, was sentenced to 19 years in prison in 2003 after being convicted of aggravated murder.

He was convicted of leaving several Dominican stowaways on a raft in the Caribbean Sea during a voyage from the Dominican Republic to the US, resulting in the drowning deaths of two of the stowaways.

Upon the ship's arrival in the US, the captain, first mate and several other crew members were detained by US authorities. After it was determined that the crime took place outside of US waters, they were extradited to Panama for trial.

In a letter to his family, Tuan Mu said that his crew had built the raft for the stowaways because they asked to leave the boat for fear that they would be discovered by US authorities. He said he had not known about his crew's plans.

OLDEST INMATE

Tuan Mu is the only Taiwanese serving a sentence in a Panamanian prison. He is also the oldest inmate in the country.

Panamanian law stipulates that Tuan Mu is eligible to apply for parole or to be placed under house arrest because of his age.

Diplomatic relations between Panama and the Republic of China date back to 1909.

However, the two countries have no agreement on repatriating prisoners.

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