A Taipei City police officer was handed a one-year prison term yesterday for lying about his role during a 1997 shootout with one of three fugitives involved in a high-profile kidnap-murder case.
The Taipei District Court found that the officer wasn't even at the scene during the time of the shootout, and that the officer, head of the Chienkuo Precinct, tried to steal credit from his colleagues.
In April 1997, Chen Chin-hsing (陳進興), Lin Chun-sheng (林春生) and Kao Tien-min (高天民) kidnapped and eventually killed Pai Hsiao-yen (白曉燕), the daughter of popular TV entertainer Pai Ping-ping (白冰冰).
The court ruled that Chang Yao-sheng (張耀昇), 37, fabricated details of an August 1997 shootout with the suspects and attempted to steal credit from subordinates who had been chasing Lin and Kao.
Amid an intense nationwide manhunt for the three suspects, Chang's station received a tip-off on August 19, 1997, that two men believed to be Pai's murderers were hiding in an apartment on Wuchang Street, northern Taipei.
Two officers went to the apartment and were shot at by two men later identified as Lin and Kao.
As a chase ensued, the two policemen called for back up; they were hit by gunfire at roughly 11:40am that morning, and one of the officers later died.
As Kao fled on a motorcycle, Lin continued to exchange gunfire with other officers arriving on the scene. After 15-minutes of running and shooting, policed chased Lin into dead-end alley.
Seriously injured and with little hope of escape, Lin shot himself in the head at roughly 11:55am, the court found.
The court ruled that Chang, who did not arrive at the scene until 12:04pm, had concocted a story about his heroic performance during the shootout and incorporated it into his report on the incident.
Chang reported that he fired three shots at Lin as the suspect was chased into the alley.
To back up his claim, the officer filed an application for three bullets to replenish his stock.
But he failed to show up for a ceremony where he was to be presented with an award for bravery -- raising suspicions among his fellow officers.
During the trial, Chang denied that he had made up the story and insisted he was involved in the confrontation.
But the court found that Chang, who received word of the shootout at around 11:46am, had arrived at the scene 10 minutes after Lin had killed himself.
Other policemen also involved in the shootout testified that they had not seen their supervisor at the scene.
The Taipei District Court sentenced Chang to one year in prison, without suspension, on a charge of forgery yesterday. He may appeal to the High Court.
Fan Jen-hsun (范仁勳), the presiding judge in the case, said he had given Chang a "lenient sentence" because he had taken into consideration Chang's work as a policeman.
"The defendant has served as a policeman for quite a few years. Even though he did not receive any major awards, he deserves some sort of recognition for his service," Fan said.
"But on the other hand, we did not give him a suspended sentence because we believe that deception of this sort should not be encouraged."
If Chang had been granted a suspended sentence, he would not be required to serve time behind bars unless convicted of another crime during the one-year period.
Although Kao eluded police during the August 1997 shootout, he was killed in another shootout with police in November the same year.
Chen, who was the last of the three to be arrested, was sentenced to death for Pai's brutal murder and executed in October last year.
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