Sun, May 28, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Pingtung court rejects case against railway suspect

JURISDICTION Kaohsiung prosecutors' application to detain Lee Tai-an was rejected, with the court saying prosecutors had not proved his involvement

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Pingtung District Court yesterday rejected a prosecutors' application to detain Lee Tai-an (李泰安), the elder brother of deceased train derailment suspect Lee Shuang-chuan (李雙全). Prosecutors said they would appeal the court decision to the Taiwan High Court.

Kaohsiung prosecutors spent more than two months putting together their case against Lee Tai-an, which seeks to establish that he conspired with his younger brother Lee Shuang-chuan to deliberately cause a train to derail to mask the murder of Chen Hong-chen (陳氏紅琛), the deceased Vietnamese spouse of Lee Shuang-chuan.

However, Pingtung District Court yesterday said in a ruling "the evidence prosecutors' have offered does not prove Lee Tai-an's involvement in the derailment incident and the death of Chen."

He was released without bail yesterday afternoon and returned to his hometown in Taitung County. Media congregated outside Lee's residence to catch a glimpse of him upon his return.

Pingtung District Prosecutors' Office was initially responsible for probing the derailment incident. However, hearing that he was a prime suspect in the case, Lee Shuang-chung hung himself outside his home on March 23. Pingtung prosecutors were criticized for the the investigation leak and subsequently handed the probe over to the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors' Office.

However, late on Friday when Kaohsiung prosecutors applied for the Kaohsiung District Court to detain Lee Tai-an, the court decided that because the train crash incident had occurred in Pingtung County, and Lee Tai-an is not a Kaohsiung resident, the Kaohsiung District Court has no right to hear the case.

Kaohsiung prosecutors yesterday morning transferred the application to Pingtung District Court, but in the afternoon the court decided to release him without bail.

"I believe in the legal system," Lee Tai-an told reporters when he left Pingtung District Court yesterday afternoon.

Lee Tai-an's lawyer Wu Han-cheng (吳漢成) was in tears over the victory.

"Prosecutors regretted the courts' decision and we will appeal it to the Taiwan High Court," said Kaohsiung District Prosecutors' Office spokesman Chung Chung-hsiao (鍾忠孝) yesterday.

Chung said prosecutors had discovered that Chen was poisoned with a "rare substance," which had been administered before she boarded the train.

She died in a murder, not in the crash incident, Chung added.

A witness also told prosecutors Lee Tai-an appeared at a small restaurant near the site of the train crash incident before it occurred, proving Lee Tai-an was not on the train as he claimed, Chung added.

The accident occurred on March 17, when an express train traveling westbound from Taitung to Kaohsiung derailed. The passengers aboard that train included Lee Shuang-chuan, who was a Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) employee, and his Vietnamese wife.

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