Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

KMT will not rule out reinvestigating `319' shooting

ROC Central News Agency

2008-02-21 22:52:57

    Taipei, Feb. 21 (CNA) The opposition Kuomintang (KMT) will not rule out the possibility of re-opening the investigation into the "319" shooting on the eve of the 2004 presidential election that injured President Chen Shui-bian and Vice President Annette Lu, KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung said Thursday.

    Wu made the remarks after U.S. forensic expert Henry Lee, who participated in the investigation of the March 19 incident, said a day earlier that the real target of the shooting was the vice president. He had previously suggested in June 2006 that the case should be closed because investigators had exhausted all leads.

    Asked to comment on the new development, KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou said that all questions regarding further investigation into the shooting should wait until after the March 22 presidential election.

    The vice president said Lee's new statement about the incident was unclear and urged him to elaborate. Otherwise, she added, it might affect the result of the election.

    The 319 incident occurred when Chen and Lu were shot while campaigning in a jeep in Tainan, southern Taiwan. The opposition believes the shooting was staged to generate sympathy votes for Chen and Lu, enabling them to win a second term by a mere 29,500 votes.

    A commission established by the legislature to investigate the incident met strong opposition from the Presidential Office, the Cabinet and other government agencies.

    In August 2005, the Tainan Public Prosecutor's Office closed the case after concluding that Chen Yi-hsiung, the lone suspect in the shooting, had apparently committed suicide. Chen, 63, was found drowned in Anping Harbor in Tainan City 10 days after the shooting.

    The opposition parties, however, were not convinced and tried to set up a commission through legislation to investigate the incident.

    In December 2006, the Council of Grand Justices ruled that some of the articles in the organic statute of the commission were unconstitutional, because they gave the commission the same powers as those of prosecutors.

    The opposition legislators amended the statute in early 2007 and a second commission was formed, with its 17 members selected in proportion to the number of seats held by different parties in the legislature.

    However, in September 2007, the Grand Justices again ruled that certain clauses in the amended organic statute for the 319 Shooting Truth Investigation Commission were unconstitutional, because the commission should not have been given power to mete out penalties to those under investigation and because the commission should have obtained approval from relevant government agencies when using the services of their employees.

    Despite these setbacks during its investigation, the second 319 Shooting Truth Investigation Commission completed two reports in 2006 -- one in August and the second in November -- and called for a review of the shooting.

    The first report claimed that based on forensic analysis led by James Chun-i Lee, a professor at National Taiwan University's Graduate Institute of Forensic Medicine, Chen Yi-hsiung did not kill himself but was most likely murdered, because his body -- wrapped in fishing net and found in the harbor -- had been dumped into the water after he died.

    The second report overturned one of the conclusions reached by a Criminal Investigation Bureau task force that the two shots fired at the president and vice president came from the same pistol, because one of the two bullet casings found at the scene had an outer caliber measuring 9.1 mm and could not be loaded into the chamber of the 9 mm pistol that police claim was used by the suspect.

(By Han Nai-kuo)

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