Fri, Oct 17, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Missing Chu will turn up, wife assures

ON THE RUN?Speculation abounded as to where the disgraced Kaohsiung City Council speaker had gone after he failed to show up for his first day in prison

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Kaohsiung District Prosecutors' Office has suspended the arrest warrant for former Kaohsiung City Council speaker Chu An-hsiung (朱安雄), after receiving a phone call from Chu's wife last evening, the Ministry of Justice said yesterday.

The ministry said that the warrant -- which had been issued earlier yesterday -- had been temporarily suspended because Chu's wife, Wu Te-mei (吳德美), had verbally assured them that Chu would turn himself in "soon."

"The Kaohsiung District Prosecutors' Office will make a decision [on whether to proceed with carrying out the warrant] tomorrow, depending on the situation," the ministry said in a statement late yesterday.

Just before the 3pm deadline for Chu to report to the prosecutors' office, his lawyer, Chien Shi-feng (錢師風), filed an application to delay the sentence for three months to allow him to take care of personal matters.

Prosecutors rejected the application after their request to meet Chu was denied.

"Chien told us that he cannot get hold of Chu either. As a result, we decided to issue a three-day arrest warrant and will declare him `wanted' when the warrant expires," said Kaohsiung District Prosecutors' Office spokesman Chou Chang-chin (周章欽).

Chu was convicted in record time for vote-buying on Sept. 25 and sentenced to 22 months in prison. He could face an additional three years if he does not show up by 3pm on Sunday. He will qualify for parole after 11 months, if he abides by the court's verdict.

Chu's disappearance sparked a flurry of speculation yesterday that he had fled the country, possibly to Shanghai.

Minister of Justice Chen Ding-nan (陳定南) held two press conferences regarding the speculation yesterday, during which he said that a reliable source told him that Chu fled on Saturday. He refused to give more information.

However, he said the police believed Chu is still in Taiwan even though they do not know where. He said that no one had seen him since last Friday.

"Local police officers visited Chu at his Kaohsiung residence on Oct. 5, but that was the last time officers met him," Chen said. "When they visited Chu again on Oct. 10, Chu's family told them that Chu had gone away but did not leave any message of his whereabouts."

Chen said that if Chu had fled to China, it would be a disgrace to all law-enforcement officers. But he said he did not want to blame any particular law-enforcement agency.

"It will definitely strike us hard and I believe that certain law-enforcement agencies should be disciplined" if Chu has escaped, Chen said.

(additional reporting by Ko Shu-ling and Melody Chen)

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