Taiwan to indict Sunflower Movement student leaders

Taiwan to indict Sunflower Movement student leaders

TAIPEI - The leaders of anti-China protests that roiled Taiwan's legislature for weeks last spring will face charges of agitating the public and attacking police, officials said on Tuesday.

Student leader Lin Fei-fan and noted legal scholar K.C. Huang are among 22 people named in a lawsuit by the Taipei District Prosecutors Office for offences committed during the three-week occupation of Taiwan's parliament, which successfully blocked a controversial trade services pact with the mainland.

Officials have not decided on what kind of punishment they will seek, though they did not exclude the prospect of jail. "We've submitted the suit to judges and are awaiting word from them on how to proceed," said head prosecutor Chang Chieh-Chin.

China regards Taiwan as a renegade province and has not ruled out the use of force to bring it under its control.

The protests, nicknamed the Sunflower Movement, were the largest display of anti-China sentiment the island had seen in years.

Students in the largely peaceful sit-in had demanded more transparency in pacts negotiated with China, Taiwan's largest trading partner.

They had expressed anxiety over China's growing economic and political influence on the vibrantly democratic island, but stepped down after a concession by lawmakers to pass a uniform supervisory bill over all Taiwan-China trade pacts.

Under Taiwan's China-friendly president Ma Ying-jeou, the two sides have signed a slew of agreements on everything from finance to tourism.

The controversial Trade in Services Agreement, as the bill in question is known, remains deadlocked in Taiwan's legislature to this day.

In a statement posted on his Facebook page, Huang said he would "calmly and bravely face and bear the consequences" but that what he is accused of is "not a crime".

Lin did not respond to calls or a text message seeking comment.

Notably absent from the suit is fellow student leader Chen Wei-ting, the fiery 24-year-old who became the public face of the protests. Chang at the Prosecutors Office said some names of the accused were left off the official statement and would not comment about Chen's status.

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