POLICE IDENTIFIES SUSPECT IN PRESIDENT'S SHOOTING
ROC Central News Agency
Taipei, March 7 (CNA) A man who died in a suspected suicide a year ago has been identified as a suspect in last year's election-eve shooting of President Chen Shui-bian and Vice President Annette Lu, police said Monday.
Police traced Chen Yi-hsiung three months after they found the maker of the two home-made bullets used in the shooting of March 19, 2004, according to Hou Yu-ih, commissioner of the Criminal Investigation Bureau and a key member of a special task force probing the shooting.
According to police, Chen had obtained a remodeled gun and bullets from a criminal ring led by Tang Shou-yi and that his image also appears in three videotapes taken near the crime scene at the time of the shooting -- when the president and vice president were greeting well-wishers in an open-topped jeep on the campaign trail in Tainan City.
After checking with Chen's family, police decided that he "could have" committed the shooting to vent his resentment at the political situation, Hou said.
The family told police that Chen appeared rather depressed after police released March 26 the image of a "bald man in a yellow shirt" who they were looking for, and when asked by his wife if he was involved in the shooting, Chen said "I'll take care of the things I did," Hou said.
According to Hou, Chen later had his wife shave off his sideburns and burned the yellow shirt that he wore on the day of the shooting.
On March 28, Chen was found drowned wearing a new suit and shoes in the fishing port of Anping, and the family later destroyed three letters he allegedly left for his wife, daughter and son, Hou said.
However, Wang Wen-chung, head of the Tainan City Police Headquarters, pointed out that the case can only be declared resolved if the letters and the gun used in the shooting are found.
Another suspect in the shooting, identified as Huang Hung-jen, was also found dead at his home of a suspected self-inflicted gunshot wound on May 26, 2004, according to police.
Although the gun used in the president's shooting has yet to be found, the police are sure it was supplied by Tang through forensic examination of the bullets, Hou said.
Police confirmed in December last year that Tang, an underground gunsmith in southern Taiwan, was the maker of the two bullets used in the shooting.
Tang was found to have remodeled a total of 53 guns, 39 of which have been retrieved, Hou said.
Police have "pinpointed the whereabouts" of the other 14, although they have not actually found them, according to Hou. He did not elaborate.
Over the past year, police have screened 4,824 ex-convicts involving in the illegal possession of firearms in addition to carrying out raids on underground gun-remodeling outfits.
Police have also checked on 434 people appearing in videotapes taken at the crime scene, including 46 in a "hot zone" considered to be the most likely spot from where the shooter fired the shots.
Four recognizable people have not been identified, while the images of two other men are unclear and six others are totally unrecognizable, police said.
Meanwhile, in an effort to single out suspicious individuals, police have also examined more than 7.1 million households islandwide.
The opposition "pan-blue alliance" of the Kuomintang and People First Party has alleged that the shooting, which left President Chen and Vice President Lu slightly injured, was set up by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party to give it an advantage in the March 20 election.
(By Y.F. Low)
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