Tue, Aug 31, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Election-eve-attack report details bullets, gun barrels

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER WITH AGENCIES

The results of a report recently released by US forensic expert Henry Lee (李昌鈺) on the March 19th election-eve attack on President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) affirms the direction of police investigations into the case and narrows search boundaries, local officials said yesterday.

While commenting on the results of the report yesterday af-ternoon, officials refuted Lee's comments on Saturday that the shooting could not have been politically motivated and emphasized that the investigation will continue regardless of politics.

The report, which Lee handed over to the State Prosecutor-General's Office after its completion last Saturday, is the finished result of Lee's two months of work on the case, which still has local authorities stumped.

Officials said that the information in Lee's reports mainly corroborates police findings so far.

"Much of the report is similar to what we have in our reports. However, Lee's forensic data analysis is much more accurate than what we could have gotten from our facilities here in Taiwan," said Judy Cheng (程曉桂), the director of the Criminal Investigation Bureau's (CIB) Forensic Science Center.

A main contribution of the report, said officials, was Lee's conclusion that the gun barrels of the two modified pistols police suspect were used in the shooting may have been a single gun barrel cut in half. The conclusion, based on the special "tool marks" left on the two shell casings found at the crime scene, means that if police can discover the barrels' manufacturers, more headway might be made on finding the guns' creators or owners, CIB Commissioner Hou You-yi (侯友宜) said. This echoed sentiments Lee expressed in his comments on releasing the report.

Another contribution of the report, officials said, is Lee's findings about the compositions of the two bullets found at the crime scene.

With Lee's information, officials said, their search for the illegal firearms used in the shooting can be narrowed down.

Taiwanese police officials emphasized that they have been doing all they can to solve the case and have examined 2,044 homemade bullets since 19 March. Out of the 2,044, they have found 12 bullets with compositions identical to those left at the crime scene and are already looking into their potential sources. The police have also made 569 raids around Taiwan since the shooting to find illegal gun manufacturers, representatives from the State Public Prosecutor-General's Office said yesterday.

The written body of Lee's report has no conclusion on the possible motives and background of the shooter, according to officials, despite Lee's comments during a press conference he held on Saturday to explain the results contained in his report.

At the conference, Lee claimed that the election-eve shooting could not have been a political assassination attempt, since the weapons would otherwise have been more powerful.

In a seeming response to Lee's allegations that the shooting could not have been a political assassination because of inadequate firepower, State Public Prosecutor-General Lu Jen-fa (盧仁發) said yesterday that homemade guns could be just as fatal as standard pistols. He said that four fatal encounters with modified guns in Taiwan had been reported since February.

Hou said that Lee's conclusion as to the motive and background of the shooter will have no effect on the continuing investigation.

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