Taiwan prison inmates say they will release hostages if demands read on TV

Inmates at Taiwan's Kaohsiung Prison who have taken the warden and another officer hostage issued a written statement late on Wednesday, saying that they would release the hostages on Thursday morning if their demands were read on television.

The six men took warden Chen Shih-chih and chief guard Wang Shih-tsang hostage on Wednesday over perceived judicial prejudice against defendants, poor treatment of inmates including their NT$200 (S$8.61) monthly allowance, and the release of former president Chen Shui-bian on medical parole last month.

Inmate Cheng Li-te, who is leading the uprising, is serving an 18-year sentence for murder, and said in the statement that he had not received a fair trial.

He also questioned the fairness of a judiciary system that would grant parole to Chen but not to other inmates.

The prisoners say they want better pay for their work in prison, and appealed for help from President Ma Ying-jeou, whom they described as a good former justice minister but a bad president.

Wu Hsien-chang, chief of the Agency of Corrections under the Ministry of Justice, read the inmates' statement in front of TV cameras outside the prison, according to Focus Taiwan.

He said the inmates were monitoring his reading on a handheld television set in the prison.