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PROSECUTOR CONFIDENT OF SOLVING ELECTION-EVE SHOOTING CASE

2004-03-30 20:24:17

    Taipei, March 30 (CNA) Law enforcement authorities are confident that they can solve the presidential election-eve shooting of President Chen Shui-bian and Vice President Annette Lu, a chief prosecutor of the State Public Prosecutor General's Office of the Supreme Court said Tuesday.

    Tseng Yung-fu made the remarks while at a meeting in the Legislative Yuan called by a judicial policy team of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) . The meeting to discuss the shooting was also attended by National Police Administrator Chang Su-liang.

    Tseng said that under the law, a prosecutor can consign outside experts to take part in the investigation of a criminal case and report their findings for reference to prosecutors and judges.

    State Public Prosecutor General Lu Ren-fa's invitation to Dr. Henry Lee, a noted forensic expert who grew up in Taiwan and made his name in the high-profile O.J. Simpson case, to assist with the investigation is such an approach, Tseng said.

    Lee, who is now based in the United States and is currently attending a meeting in New Zealand, has asked three other experts from the United States -- Dr. Cyril Wecht, an acclaimed forensic pathologist, Michael G. Haag, a forensic firearms expert with U.S. Forensic Science Consultants, Inc., and Timothy Palmbach, a crime scene investigative specialist -- to come to Taiwan to collect more information about the shooting. Lee himself will come to Taiwan April 12.

    The U.S. trio called on President Chen Tuesday morning. They also visited the scene of the shooting in Tainan City and went to Chi Mei Medical Center where the president and vice president sought treatment after they were lightly injured in the incident.

    Tseng stressed that the State Public Prosecutor General's Office, the National Police Administration and the Investigation Bureau are capable of solving the case using the existing system, and that he does not favor bringing in other investigators from outside the established framework.

    Legislator Duan Yi-kang of the ruling DPP raised questions about Lee, an expert recommended by the "pan-blue alliance, " saying that Lee's political stance could affect the results of the investigation and that other international experts should also join the investigation.

    His colleague, Yeh Yi-chin, said that Lee has taken holiday leaves in mainland China every year at the invitation of the mainland, and teaches in the mainland. Lee is also a key member of a support group of the "pan-blue alliance" in the Greater New York area, Yeh said. "One cannot but worry if this will affect his professional judgment," he added.

    DPP Legislator Chou Jung-tai wondered why Lei Chien, a former legislative candidate from the New Party, accompanied the three foreign specialists to the shooting scene and was interviewed by the media. "Lei has nothing to do with the probe and she is not a criminologist, and it is strange that she should take part in the case," he said.

    Tseng said that the specialists will submit a written report for the reference of prosecutors and that they should refrain from speaking to others on the case beforehand about their findings.

    State Public Prosecutor General Lu has asked the three foreign experts to follow strictly the principles of confidentiality regarding the case, Tseng said.

    He also said that Lei has no relevance to the investigation and

it is indeed inappropriate for her to accompany the experts, adding

that there are English translators in law enforcement department and

there is no need for Lei to do the translation.

    The shooting took place on March 19 when the president and vice president were canvassing in a open-top jeep in Tainan, southern Taiwan. Both were lightly injured, but the shooting was considered to tilt the bitterly contested election in Chen's favor. The president won re- election by a razor-thin margin of 29,518 votes out of a total of about 13 million votes cast, against his rival, Lien Chan of the "pan-blue alliance."

(By Lilian Wu)

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