Wed, Jan 26, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Detention extended for the `rice bomber'

STILL A THREAT Agricultural activist and bomb-threat suspect Yang Ju-men was denied bail by the Taipei District Court because it considers him to be dangerous

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Taipei District Court last night extended the detention of "rice bomber" Yang Ju-men (楊儒門) after expressing concern that he might reoffend.

Family members were disappointed yesterday after hoping that Yang could be bailed so that he could spend the Lunar New Year holiday with them.

Taipei prosecutors on Monday night had indicted Yang without recommending a sentence.

Yang, a former special forces member, is charged with violating the Gun Control Act (槍砲彈藥管制條例). He faces a maximum death penalty, though this is thought to be unlikely.

"Yang has been quite cooperative since he was arrested. Prosecutors decided not to recommend a sentence for him because his bombs did not contain lethal explosives or injure anyone," said Lin Bang-liang (林邦樑), spokesman for the Taipei District Prosecutor's Office.

"We understand that he was simply trying to cause a scene so that people would notice his protests. He had no intention of hurting people," Lin said.

"So we decided to leave the decision on the length of his sentence to the judges," he said.

Earlier, Yang's family had seemed upbeat about his prospects for bail during the holiday period.

"We are sorry for what he has done and apologize to the public. However, we sincerely hope that the judges will give him a chance to start over," said Yang's uncle, Yang Ching-chang (楊慶章).

"We hope that he can come home with us for Lunar New Year," he said.

Yang Ju-men admitted responsibility for 17 bomb incidents in northern Taiwan, mostly in Taipei City. He also admitted that a bomb "attack" on a train traveling between Keelung and Chunan last Feb. 2 was his work.

The bomb threats began on Oct. 27. Yang Ju-men would add explosive powder and a small packet of rice to the devices he left behind.

In addition, he would leave a note or a letter at the scene which identified him as an opponent to the importation of rice and a supporter of local rice farmers.

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