As soon as the announcement was made that the March 19, 2004 assassination attempt on President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) would not lead to a trial and verdict, some reporters and legislators began express opinions over what the investigation should or should not have done. If it really was that easy to handle the investigation, then wouldn't that mean that all the holders of masters and doctoral degrees who have examined physical evidence at the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) for decades are really quite stupid?
When we reconstructed the scene of the shooting in Tainan, we fully respected and followed every idea and instruction from US forensics expert Henry Lee (李昌鈺).
One incident, however, left a deep impression on us. A dispute arose between CIB Commissioner Hou You-yi (侯友宜) and Lee over the position of Lu's leg wound -- a small displacement of the wound led to a huge difference in the reconstruction of the bullet's path. Lee lost his temper over the incident, and the atmosphere was so thick that everyone was tense.
Afterward, Hou suggested calling Lu to clarify the wound's position, and Lee accepted the correction about the location of the wound. He can be persistent, but he also knows when to move forward or step back. There was no personal animosity involved in the dispute, only a search for the truth.
If the general public sees the bureau as a tool of the government, its investigations will be influenced by the authorities, and the willingness to trust CIB reports will suffer. We understand this, and we can live with it. Besides, why would Lee fly in from the US to help the government fabricate a lie?
If Lee had been able to find the smallest fabrication in this investigation and had then used scientific proof to overturn the government's findings, he would have been remembered for generations to come.
Wasn't he ruthless in announcing that former US president Bill Clinton's semen was found on Monica Lewinski's dress? A US president was exposed by Lee, a US citizen. Would Lee really fear Chen? Two words will suffice to explain why he chose the thorny road: "the truth."
Let's take the opposite view for a moment. Hypothesize that forensic scientists were to reveal that the shooting was fabricated. We'd go down in history, swimming in glory.
Should it appear that the shooting was not fabricated, however, we are instead met with questions and unreasonable criticism from every quarter. It is easy to see which result would be preferable. Once again, two words will suffice to explain why we have chosen the thorny road: "the truth."
Criminal forensics is built on scientific principles, and it must hold up to repeated testing. Regardless of who does a test and how many times it is repeated, the result will be the same.
The results announced by Lee were the same as the CIB's, but those who don't want to believe the results continue to disbelieve. I really do not understand how Taiwan could come to this impasse.
The people most humbled by the death of the alleged shooter, Chen Yi-hsiung (陳義雄), were the members of the special investigation team -- one more step and we could have delivered the truth.
If we were to examine the shooting investigation based on the same standards as other major investigations, the truth would be considered to have been exposed long ago.