Taiwan – Kaohsiung Prison Drama
On February 11 Taiwan‘s society was shocked by the events that unfolded in Kaohsiung prison, where 6 inmates rebelled and took staff members hostage. This was the first prison riot in Taiwan’s history. This drama highlighted not only Taiwan’s need to reform its prison management system, but also the existence of a grey zone between legality and criminal syndicates.
At about 16:30 local time Zheng Lide (鄭立德), a leader of the Bamboo Gang (竹聯幫), a notorious Taiwanese criminal syndicate, and 5 other prisoners faked an illness and asked for medical treatment. Then the six men took hostage the three guards who had come to help them. They forced the staff to take them to the prison armoury, where they stole four 65K2 rifles with 177 bullets and 6 guns with 46 bullets.
The prison’s head guard, Wang Shicang (王世倉), and the prison warden, Chen Shizhi (陳世志), asked to be taken hostage in exchange for the three guards, to which the prisoners agreed.
The inmates entered into negotiations with the authorities and claimed that they had rioted because of what they considered an unfair treatment on the part of the state. They demanded that a car be delivered to them and that they be allowed to leave the prison. However, the police refused to accept their requests.
The police asked the help of former lawmaker Li Fangzong (李榮宗) and of the prisoners’ family members.
According to reports, the six men had committed serious crimes and were all serving prison sentences exceeding 20 years. Bamboo Gang leader Zheng Lide (鄭立德) had been arrested in 2012 and sentenced to 28 years in prison for murder, possession of weapons and other crimes; Qin Yiming (秦義明) was serving a 46 years’ prison term for banditry; Wei Liangxian (魏良顯) had been sentenced to 34 years and 3 months in prison for drug trafficking; Huang Xiansheng (黃顯勝) had been sentenced to 34 years and 2 months in prison for drug trafficking; Huang Ziyan (黃子晏) had been sentenced to 25 years in prison for drug trafficking and robbery; Jin Zhusheng (靳竹生) was serving a life term for robbery.