Un expatrié en prison pour possession de canabis

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Je copie ici un texte en anglais, très « informatif », écrit par un expatrié, marié à une taiwanaise, et qui a passé 60 jours en prison pour possession de canabis. Son épouse a aussi été incarcéré dans la prison de Tucheng, dans la banlieue de Taipei. Leur histoire est sordide: plusieurs amis fument de l’herbe sur leur balcon. Ca se sait. Une descente de police, ils trouvent 0,8 grammes. Le juge et la prison.  A lire absolument. Vous aurez été prévenu 😉

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On New Years Eve of last year we decided to head up to the cemetery near our house and watch the fireworks with the dead. It was short and overrated, just like the previous years, but the whiskey and good company made it well worth it. Walking back down to our house, we asked a friend if he wanted to come over and hang out for a little bit. He called his girlfriend, gave her the address, and she took a taxi over.

Back at our place, a rooftop apartment not far from Taipei 101, we all thought it wise to roll up a joint of hash and smoke it. The girlfriend of our friend didn’t join us but she seemed fine with the rest of us having our little smoke and then continuing on with the whiskey and loud music. After a while, the girlfriend took a taxi back home and the friend stayed the night on our sofa; not wanting to drive home after drinking.

Two months later, as my wife and I were walking downstairs to go to work, a police detective appeared in our stairwell. He flashed his badge and told us he had a warrant to search our place. He told us that he had information that we were selling cocaine and led us back upstairs. The detective was followed by six other officers, and an English interpreter. They only had our English names written down, so they might have thought that we were both foreigners. My wife is Taiwanese. They also said that they had been waiting downstairs in their cars since 7:00am and that they spoke to our neighbors about us. We didn’t leave that day until 4:00pm when they decided they didn’t want to wait any longer so they just came upstairs as we were, coincidentally, heading down.
They brought my wife into the house and had me sit outside with two detectives watching over me to make sure I didn’t try to run away. They played darts and I bummed cigarettes off of them as I had run out. The detectives inside searched the bedroom first and then moved on to the living room. In a basket, under our coffee table, where we keep our snacks, was a vitamin bottle with 0.8 grams of hash inside. The street value of that much hash is maybe 300 NT.
The cocaine accusation was bullshit. I’ll explain that more in the third chapter, but I feel like I need to get that out of the way now. I’ve never seen nor have I done cocaine at anytime in Taiwan and I have no idea how to even get such a thing. Selling it here seems beyond stupid to me. Somebody lied to the police, but again, I’ll get to all that soon.

It’s funny because they stopped the search right after they found the hash. They didn’t search the kitchen or the bathroom or even the rest of the living room. They wouldn’t have found anything else of course, but shit, if they were looking for cocaine you’d think they would have kept on searching. We could’ve had a kilo in our oven.
They told us we were being arrested but that they weren’t going to handcuff us. We weren’t allowed to say anything to each other and they took us downstairs into their car and we drove off to the Neihu police station. The detectives were from Neihu and the person who told them we were cocaine dealers is also from Neihu.

When you get arrested, you’re immediately taken to the police station to be processed and to give a statement. In my case, being an American, I was offered the choice of waiting for a representative from the American Institute in Taiwan to show up and observe, or just give the statement through an interpreter who was present during the search of our house and the subsequent arrest of both my wife and I. Being that it was so late by the time we got to the station, I would have had to wait in jail until the morning before the guy from AIT would show up. I decided to go ahead and give the statement through the interpreter, who I felt was competent and did a pretty good job.

During the statement, they separated the two of us and had different detectives asking us basically the same questions. One thing that I found interesting was that they never asked us where we got the hash. They just wanted to know how long we had been using it and how often we use it. I told the detective that it was mine and that my wife didn’t even know about it. My wife told them it was hers and that I didn’t even know about it. Obviously, they saw through that lie and brought us together and told us to just come clean. That’s when we told them that it was ours and we only really do it occasionally. This was completely true, but frequency doesn’t come into play when you’re doing something illegal.

After the statement was given and signed, we both had to give a urine exam, get fingerprinted and get our picture taken. We were then taken to the courthouse and put in the holding cell. The holding cell area is a big room in the basement of the courthouse with about eight cells in it. My wife was put in the women’s cell and I, of course, was put in the men’s cell. There were three other guys in my cell and before too long, they brought me out, handcuffed me to my wife and led us down to the prosecutor’s chamber.

The prosecutor’s chamber was a very small room with a very high seat and podium in the front for the prosecutor and his clerk to sit. The prosecutor was wearing a purplish robe and was sitting so high up in his throne, that it felt like he was twenty feet tall. They do this, I’m sure, to intimidate the accused, and I have to tell you: it worked wonderfully. The detectives who searched our house, along with the interpreter were all there. There was a small computer screen in front of us which I’d assumed had our case information displayed on it but, as it was all in Chinese, I couldn’t understand any of it.

The prosecutor asked us our names and if we understood the charges we were being arrested for. He then asked us if we wanted the hash back. I don’t know if he asked that to see if we were mentally fit for prison or if it was some sort of test to see if we truly understood that it was illegal, but it was odd all the same. We said that we didn’t’ want the hash back and then he gave us each a 10,000 NT bail. We headed back to the holding cells. One of the police detectives was nice enough to take my wife’s ATM card down to the machine and withdraw the money needed for the bail. They let us out but then called me back inside because they still needed to call the Foreign Affairs Police and make sure that they knew a foreigner had just been arrested. We went home after that.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. Triste histoire qui permet de se rendre compte de la difference de legislation entre pays.
    Si en France on devait faire la meme chose, il y aurait plus de prison que d`ecoles.

  2. Ca rappelle surtout qu’il y a une loi et qu’il faut arreter de s’en croire au-dessus, ce que beaucoup d’etrangers ont tendance a croire (je l’ai fait aussi, pas la drogue, mais me croire au-dessus des lois taiwanaises et apres deux ou trois frayeurs, j’ai change de comportement).
    Si je ne me trompe pas, les lois sur le cannabis (dans les grandes lignes) sont affichees dans l’aeroport de Taoyuan quand on recupere ses bagages, d’ailleurs le type est tres honnete dans ce qu ‘il ecrit et jamais ne rejette la faute et assume ce qu’il a fait et le fait qu’il en connaissait les risques.
    Y a tellement de drogues legales que c’est juste bete de s’enquiquiner avec celles qui ne le sont pas…

    Bref, il donne le bon conseil a la fin, pas ni se vanter, ni se croire au dessus des lois, et surtout, simplement ne pas en consommer si c’est illegal, tellement simple pourtant…

  3. Ce que tu dis est tres juste,
    Il y avait pas un francais qui avait essayer de faire passer 4 kilo de canabis a Taiwan, il ne devait pas savoir lire.
    Ce que tu dis au sujet des etrangers qu`ils se croient au dessus des lois me fait penser a un anglais rencontrer en Australie qui durant son voyage en asie du sud-est n`a pas arreter de fumer et bien sur une fois en Australie il a fait de meme, hors la police l`a attrapee et il risque « juste » un renvoi dans son pays alors que si il c`etait fait attraper en asie, il aurait pu ecrire un livre entier pendant son sejour en prison.
    Apres, il y a toujours le cote dependance a prendre en compte.

  4. Je n’ai pas lu le texte en anglais ne maîtrisant pas cette langue. Mais prendre 60 jours pour avoir fumer du cannabis (drogue douce quand même) me paraît exagéré. Ce n’est sans doute pas faute d’affirmer que les expatriés se sentent au-dessus des lois mais il ne faudrait pas non plus imaginer que les taiwanais ne consomment pas de cannabis. D’ailleurs depuis que les drogues sont interdites dans la plupart des pays, les gens n’en ont jamais autant consommées. (Les personnes qui pondent les lois y compris). Il ne faudrait pas tomber dans un moralisme bien pensant dénué de réflexion qui nous ferait accepter n’importe quoi parce que la loi l’ordonne. Donc bien sûr que se placer toujours au-dessus des lois n’aiderait pas au bon fonctionnement d’une société, je termine cependant par une citation tirée du film « socialisme » de Godard « Si la loi est injuste, la justice passe avant la loi ».

  5. @alice illustration de la mentalité expats planant au dessus des lois. Pour eux, la justice se trouve non pas dans le code civil du pays qui les héberge mais dans une sorte de zone grise quelque part entre les lois de leur pays d’origine et leur propre sens de la moralité. Au final, ce sentiment relativiste bien français (pardon) que eux seuls détiennent raison et sagesse. Le pays des droits de l’homme, tout ca.
    Sacré Godard.

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