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POLICE ARREST SUSPECTS IN ELECTION-EVE SHOOTING

2004-05-14 19:59:01

    Taipei, May 14 (CNA) Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) officials said Friday that they will check if there is relevance between two suspects seized by Kaohsiung police and the shooting of President Chen Shui-bian and Vice President Annette Lu on the eve of the March 20 presidential election.

    CIB Commissioner Hou You-yi said that the suspects were arrested mainly because they possess home-made guns and ammunition, which does not mean they are involved in the March 19 shooting.

    They were the first arrests since the shooting, the first of its kind in Taiwan's history. Until Friday, police had made little headway in the investigation into the case.

    Hou said that the two suspects ran a pub in Tainan, southern Taiwan, but closed up shop after the shooting in Tainan and left for Kaohsiung.

    Hou said that the CIB is not sure if they are involved in the case, but noted that since the shooting, anyone violating the guns and ammunition control regulations will be subject to checks and the two suspects -- one of whom is wanted for drug crimes and another one has a previous fraud conviction -- have fallen into the category that needs further screening.

    However, the most suspicious point about the two is that they both had home-made guns, one of which has been fired, and copper bullets.

    Hou said that a task force investigating the shooting have sent personnel to learn about the matter and that all physical evidence, including the guns and bullets, would be brought back to CIB headquarters in Taipei for further analysis.

    CIB experts said that the focus of their investigation will be whether there are machine marks on the seized bullets and whether they came from the same source as the bullets used in the shooting.

    The experts said that they still could not determine if one lead bullet and copper bullet that slightly injured the president and the vice president respectively in the shooting came from the same gun.

    The heads of the two bullets have none of the rifling marks left by standard guns, but only some machine marks, they said, and that this, coupled with the tiny amount of gunpowder in the bullets, will make the matching work difficult.

    World renowned Chinese American forensic expert Henry Lee, who was invited to assist in the investigation, has suggested tracing the origin of the bullets found at the scene of the shooting through the machine marks on them.

    If the retrieved bullets bear the same machine marks as those seized in Kaohsiung, it might be possible to confirm their origin.

    Supporters of the "pan-blue alliance" have demanded an investigation into the shooting, believing that it unfairly swayed the bitterly contested election in Chen's favor. Chen won by a narrow margin of 29,518 out of more than 13 million ballots cast.

(By Lilian Wu)

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