Sat, Dec 18, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Station bomber arrested in Taichung

CONFESSION Police said the man claiming responsibility for an explosion outside Taipei Railway Station and threats to the Taipei 101 skyscraper had political motives

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Suspected bomber Kao Pao-chung, left, arrives at the Criminal Investigation Bureau in Taipei yesterday.


A man arrested yesterday on suspicion of igniting a gas-filled minivan outside Taipei Railway Station two days before the legislative elections has admitted responsibility for the incident, police said.

The unemployed 46-year-old Taichung resident, Kao Pao-chung (高寶中), allegedly confessed yesterday that he was responsible for the minivan explosion at an open-air parking lot next to the station last Thursday.

"We collected a clear fingerprint from one of the black plastic bags used to bind the gas tanks in the minivan at the crime scene. Forensic scientists determined that it was Kao's fingerprint," said Yang Chun-june (楊春鈞), a lieutenant with the Criminal Investigation Bureau's Second Division.

The print was matched with Kao's fingerprints kept in his military service file.

The suspect was arrested at his Taichung residence yesterday morning. There police discovered the clothes that he allegedly wore while committing the crime, as well as the same kind of stationery and envelopes used to draft two threatening letters sent to local TV stations warning of a bomb at the Taipei 101 skyscraper.

Kao allegedly wrote that four bombs would go off before election day and that both the railway station and the Taipei 101 were on his attack list.

Kao admitted to the crime immediately after the raid, police said.

Police alleged that Kao stole the minivan from a dealership in Taichung County, loaded it with 11 gas tanks, drove it to Taipei and parked it next to Taipei Railway Station on Wednesday last week. Kao then returned to Taichung immediately after the explosion the next day.

Police discovered 11 20kg gas tanks inside the vehicle. However, they did not discover any explosives at the scene.

Reuters reported police as saying that an "anti-Taiwan independence" message was written on one of a number of packages which Kao, who has no prior criminal record, placed outside the station's exits.

Police said Kao is a second-generation Mainlander and passionate about politics. They said he had admitted that he had been politically motivated.

Kao had also had training in physics and may have used this knowledge to create the improvised device, police said.

After a short period of questioning in Taichung, Kao was brought to the bureau's headquarters in Taipei in the afternoon, where detailed questioning was continuing at press time last night.

Police said charges against Kao will include disturbing the peace and endangering public safety. He faces years in prison.

The explosion did not injure anybody, but it destroyed two vehicles that were parked next to the minivan.

On Dec. 11, the police released video footage of Kao which was recorded by a security camera system inside a convenience store near the crime scene.

Kao's face was not clearly identifiable, however, because he was wearing a hat and a surgical mask on his face.

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