Taiwan continues to put Justin Lin on wanted list

TAIPEI, Taiwan - The prosecutors office on the offshore island of Kinmen yesterday said it will continue to keep Justin Lin (林毅夫), a Taiwanese national who defected to China more than 30 years ago, on the wanted list.

In accordance with the country's revised Code of Court Martial Procedure passed last August, the Ministry of National Defence (MND) yesterday has given the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) a list of fugitive military personnel.

The MND said it is up to civilian judicial or law enforcement authorities to decide whether such military officers should remain on the wanted list. Lin is listed among the top members of the wanted list.

On May 16, 1979, Lin, then a Taiwanese Army captain stationed on the outlying frontline island Kinmen, swam across the Taiwan Strait to the mainland.

Lin later studied economics at Peking University before becoming a world-renowned economist. He was appointed to be the senior vice president of the World Bank in 2008.

For decades, the MND insisted that Lin is still a fugitive wanted on treason charges and has reiterated its stance that it would not lift the arrest order on Lin even though Lin has repeatedly urged Taiwan to allow him to come home on humanitarian grounds.

However, some members of the legal community have been arguing that Taiwan should lift the arrest order because the law's statute of limitations sets the period of prosecution at 20 years for defection to an enemy state.

In a press release, the Kinmen Prosecutors Office, which has jurisdiction over Lin's case, said yesterday it will not lift the arrest order on the renowned economist.

But it also said it will continue to review related laws and regulations and will make timely adjustments to Lin's arrest order in the future if need be.

Defection to an enemy state is punishable by death, life imprisonment or a minimum of 10 years in prison, according to the Criminal Code of the Armed Forces.