The individual in question in this case, Zain Dean, has released a statement that explains why the Taipei Times had to correct information in this report. Those of you with long experience here will nod.... Disclaimers: I have never met Mr. Dean nor anyone else involved and have no involvement in this case whatsoever. This posting represents Mr. Dean's point of view only.
A British businessman, Zain Dean, was released on bail and prohibited from leaving the country by Taipei prosecutors following his alleged involvement in a hit-and-run in Taipei City.Taipei police said Dean, 39, chief executive officer of NCL Media UK’s Taiwan Branch, has lived in Taiwan for 16 years.
Prosecutors released Dean on NT$150,000 bail on Saturday evening.
As Dean was leaving the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office, relatives of Huang Chiun-teh (黃俊德), the man killed in the accident, attempted to attack him.
Prosecutors said that during questioning, Dean denied involvement in the accident, saying he was drinking with friends at a hostess pub until the early hours of the morning on Thursday, but because he was drunk, a pub worker drove him home and he had no recollection of any car accident.
Prosecutors said the pub worker denied that he drove Dean home in his car. They said CCTV footage from outside the club showed the pub worker getting into the driver's seat. He returned to the club on foot six minutes later, they added.
Personal Statement of Zain Dean
Regarding the car accident of morning of 25th March 2010, in Taipei City
Document Date: 6 May 2010
You might have heard some reports of my involvement in an accident that happened recently. There has been much media mis-information regarding my involvement, and this document is an attempt to show the facts of the case as they really happened. Even though my professional career in Taiwan for the past 16 years has come to an abrupt end, it still means a lot to me to let the people who actually know me understand the real truth behind some of the recent sensational headlines.
Firstly, although the accident was not caused by me, (by reading this document and hearing my side, you will be able to make up your own mind about this) the car was owned by me, and I was in the car at the time of the accident. Thus I feel a deep sense of moral responsibility for what happened.
As such I wanted to send my deepest condolences in this time of deep sorrow for the family. I sincerely share their grief at this darkest hour and I feel deep sadness and sorrow.
Recently my own mother passed away, it was a tremendously painful and confusing time. I am aware of the pain and suffering that must be going through the minds of the immediate family of Mr. Hwang, the deceased. I hope that by having more people read this document, the family of Mr Hwang can also find out what actually happened during the early hours of 25th March 2010, and that they can find peace.
The English language media, Taipei Times recently published an apology and correction for their incorrect reporting. At least this is a start in getting my name cleared.
Timeline of events.
25 March 2010. 1am. I received a phone call from a Taiwanese man, a neighbour of mine, (Mr A), who called me from a KTV on Lin Sen N Road, and wanted me to come out to meet him. I was already in bed, sleeping, but as Mr A was a extremely wealthy person who had indicated he would be willing to invest in my company, I decided to come out. In Taiwan (and China), the business custom is to go to these kinds of KTV’s/ hostess bars in the early hours, drink whole glasses of alcohol in one swig and ‘talk business/ bond’. It’s not something I have done in the past 16 years of being in Taiwan, as most of my customers are leading corporations competing on the international business arena, looking for brand consulting, corporate communications etc. These kinds of customers are not looking to get drunk in a hostess bar, but rather increased market share on a global basis.
After a few hours of intense drinking, I became very drunk and Mr A decided to change venue. As I had driven my car (initially not intending to drink, since I had for the past several weeks been part of a vegetarian/ non alcoholic / health plan) to the first KTV, and had now become drunk, Mr A called the management of the 2nd KTV (another KTV/hostess bar on Sun Chiang Road) and asked them to send over a driver. Mr A apparently was a regular and big customer of the 2nd KTV, and thus he had preferential treatment. The driver arrived, and took us to the 2nd KTV.
When we arrived, the same process was enacted, however, this time I was so tired, and drunk that I quickly became sleepy and according to Mr A, ‘was no fun’ and he decided to leave.
Mr A then requested the management to provide another driver to take me home, as it was obvious that I would not be able to walk properly, let alone drive. Thus a driver was selected, and I was placed into the passenger seat, and the driver got in the drivers seat, and the car left the front of the KTV (this was recorded on CCTV and provided to the police by the KTV). This was also seen by Mr A.
I was then driven home, indicating to the driver I lived near 101 (I live in one of the buildings in front of the 101 building). What I remember of the ride home was that it was very fast, it was raining, and the sky was dark (still night). Also my head kept bumping up against the glass, as I slumped to the right. I didn’t hear or see anyone being hit (neither did I receive any injury nor the airbag go off).
When we neared the 101, the driver tried to wake me up asking, ‘where do you live, what’s your address?’ I turned around in a half-sleeply state and saw a man I didn’t recognize thus I didn’t want to give him any details of where I lived etc. I simply asked him to drop me off at the corner (SunRen and Hsinyi) of the street behind my house. I then got in the drivers seat (not even at this point noticing the damage on the car) and drove the last couple of hundred meters home, parked the car and somehow made it up to the house.
On arrival at the house, I had to ring the doorbell, as I hadn’t brought my keys or briefcase. My wife asked me about these, and I was unable to answer, still quite drunk. She then went down to the parking lot basement, and found them, and also found that the car had been in an accident. She immediately called Mr A and asked him about it, he said the driver had driven me home and that’s all he knew of the matter.
However, regarding the damage to the car, he also said that we shouldn’t make a big fuss about it, as ‘the parking lot attendants don’t make a lot of money’. The implication was that instead of complaining to the KTV about the damage, we should just get it fixed by ourselves. (In Chinese the phrase was, “bu yao numa jee jow”).
I was unaware of this conversation or that the car had received any damage. The next day my wife called me from work to wake me and asked me what had happened the night before, specifically to the car. I replied, nothing that I knew off. She asked me to go to the basement parking lot to see for myself, and I did so. I was very surprised to see that the damage to the front right side of the car, a broken bumper, a crushed light fitting, body panel damage, radiator damage and some chassis damage.
After discussing this with my wife, I came to the conclusion that the driver must have hit a lamp post or suchlike, as it had been raining etc., and based on what Mr A had said to my wife, I decided to take the car out to the repair shop I normally go to, near my house, and a place I’d been getting my cars over the years repaired time after time. After all, I had been trying to ‘win over’ Mr A and hopefully have him invest in my company, the last thing I wanted to do was to make a mountain out of a molehill.
This repair shop only has one slot for vehicles, so other cars waiting to be repaired must be parked outside on the public road. The owner of the repair shop (Mr M) asked me what had caused this, I said I didn’t know (not wanting to tell him that I had been to a hostess bar, etc). He estimated the repair cost to be quite high if we used new original (Mercedes) parts, but lower if we used second hand parts. Either way, he was not able to give a price, so I left the car outside his shop in full public view and then went home. By this time, it was noon Thursday, the 25th March.
(Note the car in question was a 1994 Mercedes Benz E320, which I bought for 100,000 NTD approximately 2 years ago, at the time of the accident, the market price for such car was approximately 60,000-80,000 NTD).
After a day had elapsed, I visited the repair store and learned that second parts would not be easy to find (radiator) and chassis straightening, numerous panel repairs and a new front bumper would cost over 100,000 NTD using original parts, and for second hand parts, he’d have to take a few weeks to find out.
As I had originally been planning to leave Taiwan at the end of March (all my friends on Facebook and at the Rotary club for example had known this in early March when I had told them) I decided to have the car scrapped instead. I didn’t see the point of spending a lot of money to repair a car, more than it’s worth, nor did I see the point of waiting for weeks until parts could be found as I was planning on leaving in the next few weeks.
(I had made the statement on Facebook and given a speech at the Rotary club to that effect. I had already started giving away my books and paintings to charity, etc. The fact I was getting ready to leave at the end of March, latest April, was not a secret to all those that knew me).
On Friday I told Mr M at the repair store of my idea, and he then proceeded to remove the DVD player etc from the car. I asked my wife to have the car scrapped. After she contacted the scrap yard, she received another offer instead. Instead of scrapping the car (which would be done immediately, on the 26th March) she was offered the option of selling the car instead (which would mean an ownership change that would happen on the 31st).
(Of course, if I had been planning to ‘destroy the evidence’, I would have taken the quicker option, and the car would have been converted to a block of metal immediately. By taking the slower option, I would be leaving the ‘evidence’ open to future investigation, not something one would do if he had the motive to destroy the evidence).
By the evening of Friday the 25th March, I still had no idea whatsoever that my car had been involved in a fatal hit and run. I had spent the afternoon working as usual. In the evening however, my wife received a phone call from Mr A’s wife. She said that she’d seen a newspaper report about the accident, and that it involved a black Mercedes, of the same model as mine. The accident had happened recently. She came round to our house, with Mr A and all four of us looked at the newspaper report. There seemed to be a link and all of us agreed that we should take the initiative and visit the police ourselves and volunteer whatever information we had. Certainly I had not driven the car home so there didn’t seem to be any undue reason to worry.
After they left, I called Mr D, the most senior person at our Rotary club, by number of years in Taiwan. I told him what had happened, and he advised me to (1) voluntarily go to the police and make a statement of what I knew (2) check to see if the car had proper insurance and whether the insurance would cover this kind of accident.
As a result I asked my wife to go to the office and check the insurance paperwork immediately. During this time, I began pacing up and down the apartment, trying to get my head around this situation. I tried calling Mr A to see if he could come with me to the police station, and I couldn’t reach him.
A few minutes after my wife arrived at the office, she called me and told me that the Da An police wanted to meet her near the office and ask her some questions. She had agreed to meet with them, and they had taken her to the police station.
I called Mr D (9.03pm) and updated him on the situation, he again advised to (1) go to the police station voluntarily to see what was going on, and (2) that he’d arrange for a lawyer to come the next morning at 9 am to authorize and approve the content of any statement I would need to make.
At this point, it still wasn’t 100% confirmed that the accident had involved my car, and even if it did, I wasn’t the driver, so I thought I would be able to go to the police station, tell them who the driver was, and come home. I assumed then I would be able to come back the next day with the lawyer Mr D offered, if necessary.
I then got changed into a suit, picked up my briefcase and went down the elevator to find the Da An police waiting for me on the 1st floor. I asked if I could go to the Hsin Yi police station to make my statement and they refused. The reason I wanted to go to Hsin Yi not Da An police station was very simple.....[removed] Also Hsin Yi was right next to my house, a 5 minute walk.
In my suit was my wallet, and keys. I didn’t have a passport or toothbrush or anything that would indicate I was trying to ‘escape the country’ as was reported by the media. Also my telephone communication with Mr D and the text messages we exchanged also shows this very clearly.
The Da An police later told the media, whom they invited into the police station right next to where I was being interviewed, that I had been ‘caught’ trying to ‘escape to Jin Men’, which was absolutely incorrect.
I was told by the policemen (CID officer ‘X’) if I had been driving the car at 5am on Chung Hsiao section 5, I said I hadn’t been. He then showed me newspaper reports of the accident. I told them the driver was someone else, a person allocated by the KTV where I had been that evening, to drive me home.
Then at the police station I was asked if I was willing to have a blood test done to test for alcohol or amphetamine use. I agreed and the tests were done at a local hospital.
Officer X insisted I make a statement immediately. I asked for an interpreter from the foreign affairs police, and this was refused to me two times. On the third request, Officer X allowed a foreign affairs police officer from the national police administration to attend (Officer ‘F’).
Unfortunately as it was already quite late now, into the early hours of the morning, and Mr D said he couldn’t get a Chinese speaking lawyer to come out so late.
So I decided to tell Officer F what had happened and who was the driver, and Officer F managed to persuade the Da An police to listen to me and check out my story. Reluctantly Officer X came with us in a police van to the 2nd KTV on Sun Chiang Road.
The officers went to the KTV doorway and asked the parking lot attendants if they had taken any foreigner home a few days ago. They all denied it. Officer F asked me if I would be able to identify the driver. I said I wouldn’t, since I didn’t have a clear recollection of who the driver was (I had been drunk and sleepy) so I didn’t want to implicate anyone innocent. Officer asked again, more forcefully, and then one of the KTV admitted driving me home. This man was then immediately placed into the van.
Then a strange thing happened, whilst officer F was talking to the KTV staff at the KTV next door (there were two KTVs right next to each other) officer X, allowed the other KTV staff to come up to the van where the driver had been placed and started discussing the drivers alibi. I knew this because I speak and understand spoken Chinese fairly well.
They basically started colluding right in front of officer X, as to ‘what had happened’. The driver stated to his co-workers that he didn’t drive me home and that he had come back to the KTV soon after leaving. He told his co-workers where he had ‘dropped me off’ (across the street on the other side), and they started repeating what he’d said, in an effort to commit it to their collective memories and ‘get their story straight’. He told them a location, but wasn’t sure exactly. One of his co-workers gave a suggestion, ‘was it xyz street’, and after a pause, they all agreed it was so.
At the police station, I wasn’t asked to give a statement, but now the driver was. After an hour or so, the officer who was questioning the driver came out and said “good news for you” as he patted me on the back, “the drivers confessed to what happened, what he’s stated supports what you’ve said” [paraphrased from Mandarin Chinese]. This was a huge relief for me, and the officers who had been with me to the KTV to pick up the driver also seemed relieved. Officer F, even went as far as saying to the other uniformed police present, “see I told you it wasn’t Dean, I’ve been doing police work for many years, and I have good instincts. When the driver had gotten into the van, I had sat next to him, and I noticed his legs had been shaking, he had been very nervous’.
At this point, we sat in semi circle and I started telling the police about the work I did in Taiwan, working over 16 years under the presidencies of Lee Tung Hwei, Chen and Ma, in different ministries (Ministry of Economics, Foreign Affairs, National Security Council, Tourism, etc). We became friendly and exchanged name cards and telephone numbers. One of the other officers, who had been in a room nearby who had been interviewing my wife, opened the door to see what the commotion was. He even took a picture of us all together, he said, ‘it was like seeing a teacher with his students all chatting together’.
I then sent a text message to Mr D, from our Rotary club (at 2.03am), stating; “Thanks [for your help], now apparently they’ve gotten a confession from the other person [the driver] … what an unexpected blessing … maybe that prayer worked …”
I got a reply back at 2.04am from Mr D; “Prayer does it! I prayed to God to help solve you’re problem. It is good news. Thank you Jesus”
I then replied to him; “Now need to get home … some time soon. Thankyou”
Mr D replied; “At least you can sleep peacefully. Talk to you tomorrow”.
At this point, I was getting ready to go home. But after another hour or so of waiting, I started to wonder what was happening.
Officer F, told me the owner of the KTV had arrived and was talking to the head of the police station in private upstairs.
Later, the tone of the whole office changed. The officers who I’d been joking with all disappeared, including officer F. I noticed that more and more cameramen from the local media had started milling around the foyer of the floor I was on, nearby where I had been sitting. Every time I went to the bathroom, I noticed the number of them was increasing, going from one or two, up to 5 or 6. One time I walked past, I noticed one of the cameramen saying to officer X, “Thanks Big Brother, for giving us this opportunity” and Officer X was saying “don’t mention it”. I started wondering what was going on, and why these media people were there.
The hours were starting to drag by. There was no one around whom I could ask what was happening.
Suddenly officer X appeared and was now very aggressive. “Why don’t you admit you drove the car? We know it was you who drove the car, why don’t you confess now?” I was dumbfounded. “What?” I asked. “You can make your statement now” he demanded.
Then I was asked to strip and allow a photographer to take pictures of my body, which I agreed to. (There were no indications of any accident damage anywhere.)
Officer X at this point wanted a statement written immediately, and wouldn’t allow me to get a lawyer. Originally I had been in constant contact with Mr D, but now it was past 4am, and I couldn’t get any reply from him. I became very worried. The tone had changed, they wanted a statement without a lawyer present. Officer X was very ‘insistent’.
At 8.17am I sent another message to Mr D, “Hi D, things have gone south again, at the police station, I’m still here … And still need a lawyer, can we get [lawyers name removed]? He has no answer. Z”
I then called another senior from our Rotary club, Mr E. Fortunately, he was awake already and directed me to an excellent lawyer he knew of, which I managed to get his home number and he agreed to come over immediately.
After he arrived he helped me to get the statement made (which was exactly as I have described above) and also helped me navigate the questions, most of which had been setup and copied and pasted from the updated drivers statement. (they had been copied and pasted in front of me by officer X). The questions were extremely pointed, and my answers had to be checked and re-checked by my lawyer, as the statement/ questions had been pre-designed to show me as guilty.
After the statement was finished, officer X came in and left. The officer left behind (officer G) then talked to me and my wife in private, he said, “I’m very sorry about what is to happen. This is not the way I like to do things. This has been decided from above”. I asked him what ‘this’ was. He replied, “you are to become the only suspect in this case”. I asked what was to happen to driver, “he’s to be released” said officer G.
At this point I almost broke down with despair. What was happening? Officer G seemed very compassionate. He said, “Just remember, whatever happens … look after your … aura”. Then he left.
I then realized the media had been invited to film ME, and they were waiting for ME to have an emotional reaction. I decided to stay calm and remain composed, even though I was extremely low. The media had been thanking the police officer X for letting them come into the police station and film ME.
Officer G seemed at this point the most supportive. He suggested that I didn’t cover my face and tell the waiting media the truth. I thought this seemed like a good idea. I repeated the idea to another officer who seemed more senior, who became angry at officer G. He said, “What a stupid idea”, and “we don’t want any comments like that made inside the police station”. He then looked at me and suggested I cover my head and face with a mask. I became confused on what I should be doing. I’d never been in this kind of situation, although I’d seen scenes like this on television.
Later, I was escorted into a police car and taken to the criminal court. I covered my face with my jacket and entered went into the basement. I was then delivered to a holding cell.
After many hours went by, I was presented to an investigating prosecutor. Luckily my lawyer was there, and he asked for bail which was granted. [removed]
On leaving the court house, I realized now that it was already dark again, a whole day had passed. Outside a mob was waiting, comprised of media. They drove away the taxi we’d called for. People were punching me, trying to rip my face mask off, my jackets hood was ripped off, my cap was pulled off, my bag pulled from my body, I fell to the ground. It was very frightening, being attacked by a mob and being filmed at the same time. At one point, the goading was too much, and I took a jab at one of the media who were especially confident and aggressive. My wife replied, “stop, don’t, you’ll make it worse”, so I stopped. I saw her being pushed to the ground, she was isolated from me and being stomped and jabbed with an umbrella. (Later her body was found to be covered in bruises). I became aware of a older Taiwanese lady, not a media member trying to hit me, I let her, as I assumed it must have been one of the family members. We ran back into the court house. The policemen there stated they ‘could do nothing’. I told them I wouldn’t leave unless they could get us into a taxi. Initially they insisted they had not jurisdiction outside the courthouse (despite all being in police uniform), but eventually they agreed to go out with us. This time the crowd had abated, the media already had the footage they wanted, and most had left already. When we got into the taxi we were chased around until we managed to evade them. It had been the most hellish 24 hours of my life. Even now, I still couldn’t believe how quickly I had gone from being a normal person, to someone who’d been “found guilty” by the media, and the general public. I hadn’t even been charged with any crime and there was no evidence against me. Is this what justice is supposed to be in modern democratic Taiwanese society? They might as well have had a public hanging.
[I have removed the bottom section of Dean's report, which you can probably find for yourself using Google. In it Dean states that while the video from the KTV says one thing, videos from elsewhere show another. That is why the Taipei Times was forced to run the correction above. ]
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