Sat, Sep 11, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Chen shooting probe nets gunsmiths

WEAPONS MAKERS Three men who were running an illegal gunmaking factory were arrested, and ammunition they had was linked to the March 19 assassination attempt

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

In what could prove to be a major breakthrough in the investigation into the attempted assasination of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) on March 19, Tainan police yesterday arrested three suspected illegal weaponsmiths and discovered that pistol bullets they possessed matched the two bullets recovered from the shooting.

The three people were identified as Yeh Ho-chiang (葉合強), 38, Chen Keng-hung (陳耕宏), 33, and Huang Chin-shou (黃進壽), 43. The police arrested them at their underground weapons factory in Yungkang City, Tainan County, and recovered more than 10,000 rounds of ammunition, 20 pistols and numerous other pistol parts -- all homemade -- at the scene.

According to the police, Yeh, Chen and Huang made only a nominal effort to conceal their factory. When the officers arrived, the suspects did not make any attempt to close the door of the factory or to conceal the ammunition and weapons, which were clearly visible and scattered throughout the premises.

The police quoted Yeh -- the alleged mastermind of the group -- as saying that the homemade pistols were sold for NT$50,000 apiece; while homemade ammunition was sold for NT$400 per round, but the buyer must buy at least 30 rounds per purchase.

Yeh told the police that all three men used to be lathe workers. However, they decided to begin their illegal business to earn more money last year, and had sold more than 60 pistols and more than 10,000 bullets.

Tainan Chief Prosecutor Kuo Chen-ni (郭珍妮), who has been working on the investigation of the assassination attempt along with her co-prosecutor Wang San-jung (王森榮), immediately held a press conference and updated the public about the progress in the case.

"The bullets they produced match the two bullets that injured President Chen Shui-bian and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) on March 19. Although the trio denied that they had any connection to the case, we are still trying to get more details and information from them," Kuo said.

In the meantime, Kuo said that the police had arrested three suspects, Ho Dun-ching (何墩卿), Chang Ku-teng (張固騰) and Ho Chih-chiang (何志強), in May because they were in possession of homemade bullets, which also appeared to match the rounds used in the presidential assassination attempt.

However, the suspects refused to reveal to law enforcement officers where they had obtained their bullets.

Yesterday, prosecutors officially indicted the trio for possession of illegal firearms.

"Although we indicted them, it does not mean they are directly related to the assassination attempt," Kuo said.

One of the six men must have some useful information, she said.

"That is what we are trying to figure out," she added.

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