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Monday, March 07, 2005

Yahoo! News - Taiwan Says Top Suspect in Chen Shooting Is Dead

Yahoo! News - Taiwan Says Top Suspect in Chen Shooting Is Dead: "

World - Reuters
Taiwan Says Top Suspect in Chen Shooting Is Dead

Mon Mar 7, 4:07 AM ET

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By Michael Kramer

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan police named a dead unemployed man as their top suspect for last year's election-eve shooting of President Chen Shui-bian and said the man committed suicide by drowning days after the March attack.

The suspect, Chen Yi-hsiung, was likely motivated by dissatisfaction with the government, and left behind a suicide note saying he wanted to kill himself to relieve the burden on his family, investigators said Monday.

"By tracing the bullets, Chen Yi-hsiung is the most likely suspect," Hou Yu-ih, commissioner of the Criminal Investigation Bureau, told a news conference.

When asked if the case had been solved, Hou said: "The overall direction is already very, very clear" and further investigations would include trying to find the suspect's gun.

The incumbent Chen Shui-bian won a second four-year term by a razor-thin margin the day after the attack. Opposition parties have said they suspect the shooting might have been staged for sympathy votes.

More than half a million people marched in the streets outside the presidential office in the weeks after the election to demand an impartial investigation into the attack.

Although investigators went to great lengths to detail their year-long probe at the 1- hour news conference, the main opposition Nationalist Party immediately rejected the findings.

"This explanation is an attempt to establish credibility with the people. It could become an excuse not to continue to investigate," said Nationalist spokesman Chang Jung-kung.

"They have all the administrative power. For us to find out the truth, we need a fair investigation committee."


Conspiracy theorists will likely point to a lack of direct evidence linking Chen Yi-hsiung to the shooting -- the weapon has not been found, he is dead and his suicide notes had been burned or shredded by his family.

Citing testimony from Chen Yi-hsiung's relatives, Hou said Chen was confronted by his wife after local television showed a picture of him as an unidentified person on the scene whom police were seeking for questioning.

His wife asked him what he was doing there and whether he shot the president, and worried what the public might say about their family, the relatives said. Chen had answered: "I will deal with what I did," according to Hou.

"This conversation with his wife proves 'I committed this case, and I will deal with it'," Hou said.

Police had security camera footage of Chen Yi-hsung running away from the scene days after the shooting, but said the investigation took nearly a year as his family agreed among themselves to deny any connection to the case after the suicide.

Police were forced to work backwards from bullets and casings on the scene, tracing them to the underground factory that manufactured and sold the weapons and ammunition until investigators had enough evidence to confront relatives.

The family then relented and told police about the contents of Chen Yi-hsiung's suicide notes, which they had destroyed. In one note he said he was becoming more and more depressed after the president was re-elected.

"The papers that he left behind indicated he was unhappy with current social affairs," Hou said.

A statement from the president's office thanked the police for their hard work and said it respected their professional investigation and hoped the case could be closed soon.

(Additional reporting by Richard Dobson)

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