CASE STILL OPEN ON PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION-EVE SHOOTING
Central News Agency
Taipei, June 2 (CNA) Prosecutors are not about to end their investigations into the March 19, 2004 presidential election-eve shooting of the president and vice president in spite of a media report to the contrary, Kuo Jen-ni, the chief prosecutor of the Tainan Prosecutor's Office, said Thursday.
Kuo was responding to a United Daily News article that the investigative team will indict their prime suspect, Chen Yi-hsiung, on the charge of attempted murder, but since Chen apparently committed suicide shortly after the shooting, the court will dismiss the case.
Kuo said that officials were surprised by the report, adding that the task force still meets regularly.
The gun used in the shooting has yet to be recovered and Kuo said that law enforcement officials are still looking for it in the hope that it will turn up at some point.
The task force in the meantime is sorting out information compiled over the past year, and there is no timetable for closing the case, she said, adding that the task force will make an announcement when this happens.
Meanwhile, the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) said Thursday that after the identification of the lone gunman in early March, most CIB agents of the task force have returned to their original posts and Hou Yu-ih, the CIB's commissioner, is now working on a report of the case.
It is initially estimated that the more than 100,000-character report will be divided into two parts on forensics and investigation, and will address the areas of the case still in question.
Some people wonder if Chen really did drown himself after the shooting and are unconvinced about the case since the weapon used has never been found. However, the police have confirmed that Chen was in fact standing in the "hot zone" of the crime scene because he was filmed by a video surveillance camera.
The legislative caucus of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said that the party will respect the judicial ruling on the shooting.
William C. T. Lai, DPP caucus whip in the legislature, said that any parties or individuals who can bring fresh evidence to the case are encouraged to do so, but people coming forward to be critical for no purpose will only hinder the investigation and create divisiveness in society.
The legislative caucus of the Taiwan Solidarity Union, an ally of the DPP, said police should continue to search for the homemade gun used against the president or the whole case will be flawed.
Chang Jung-kung, a spokesman for the Kuomintang (KMT), said that closing the case now would be an attempt by the government to cover the truth.
Chang said that president won re-election by a slim margin thanks to two bullets. The government has tried to come out the shadow of the shooting, but if there is no full accounting to the world and the Taiwan people, then Chen Shui-bian will never shake off the title of the "two-bullet president," he added.
Lee Yung-ping, caucus whip of the People First Party (PFP), said that if the case is closed rashly, it will result in political discordance and bring new crises to the legality of the government.
Lee said the shooting is not an ordinary criminal case, but is a national security issue with the lives of the president and the vice president at stake, and it shouldn't be closed without any evidence having been produced.
Lee urged those in the national security system who know the truth and who have a clear conscience to come forward and expose the truth courageously, just like the secret source "deep throat" in the Watergate scandal, which brought down U.S. President Richard Nixon.
She said that if the case ends abruptly, it will only prove the need to form another "319 truth commission, " and the PFP caucus will actively promote the formation of such a commission in the next legislative session.
The opposition-controlled fifth Legislative Yuan passed a special statute authorizing the establishment of an independent "319 truth commission" last year to investigate the case in which President Chen Shui-bian and Vice President Annette Lu were shot and slightly wounded. However, the statute was later ruled to be unconstitutional by the Council of Grand Justices.
President Chen and Vice President Lu were injured on the eve of the presidential election when two homemade bullets grazed them as they campaigned in an open jeep in the southern city of Tainan. After the Chen-Lu ticket narrowly won re-election the following day, the sole challenging ticket of KMT Chairman Lien Chan and PFP Chairman James Soong accused the president of having staged the shooting to win sympathy votes and filed two lawsuits to challenge the election result. The lawsuits were rejected by the court.
The special police team investigating the incident identified Chen Yi-hsiung, 63, as the key suspect in the shooting shortly before the first anniversary of the shooting. Chen Yi-hsiung was found dead in Anping Harbor in Tainan March 29 last year -- 10 days after the shooting -- in what police have said was an apparent suicide.
(By Lilian Wu)
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