Paris, Feb. 19 (CNA) Some 218 out of 269 people recently arrested in Spain for suspected involvement in telecom fraud have been identified as Taiwanese nationals, according to Taiwan's representative office in Spain.
Since the suspects were arrested in December last year in a joint operation between Spain and China, the Taiwanese officials have paid several visits to seven prisons in which the suspects were detained, the office said Sunday.
The fraud ring has been charged with swindling a total of 16 million euros (NT$523 million) out of Chinese nationals in China, Spanish police said.
During the visits, the Taiwanese officials met 218 suspects - dozens of whom being female - who are willing to meet them, the officials said, explaining that during the visits, they learned the suspects were from Taiwan.
Because there are suspects who refused such a meeting, the Taiwanese officials are unable to know if there are more Taiwanese nationals among the detained suspects, the officials noted.
The Spanish government decided on Feb. 17 to accept a demand from Beijing for the extradition to China of all 269 suspects, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The decision drew the ministry's strong protest. In a statement issued Saturday, the ministry said that the decision has infringed upon the rights of the ROC (Taiwan) nationals and defies the European tradition of humanism.
The Mainland Affairs Council also denounced China for seeking to extradite Taiwanese nationals to China, saying Beijing's "unilateral" decision will damage the foundation for cross-strait cooperation and mutual trust.
Taiwan has urged Beijing to allow each side of the Taiwan Strait to exercise their respective legal jurisdiction over the case.
In Spain, however, the Spanish government's decision would be reviewed by its judiciary branch before it can be put into practice. A court will decide whether or not to have the suspected extradited to China, according to the Taiwanese representative office in Spain.
(By Emmanuelle Tzeng and Elizabeth Hsu)