Thu, May 24, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Politician gunned down in cold blood

MURDER Gangs and shady construction deals were thought to be behind the shooting of a Taipei County councilor, while some lawmakers used the incident to score points

By Rich Chang and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTERS

People First Party Taipei County Councilor Wu Shan-jeou, who was killed in his office in Sindian yesterday, is seen in this file photo.

PHOTO COURTESY OF TAIPEI COUNTY COUNCIL

A Taipei County politician was gunned down in his office yesterday in what police believe was a cold-blooded assassination by gangsters seeking to protect an extortion racket.

Taipei County Councilor Wu Shan-jeou (吳善九) of the People First Party (PFP) was shot dead in his office in Sindian (新店), Taipei County, shortly before noon yesterday.

Witnesses said that a suspect rushed into Wu's office and fired five shots from a pistol, four of which struck the lawmaker.

"Wu and two of his assistants were in his office in Sindian yesterday morning," Taipei County Police Department Vice Commissioner Wang Yu-kang (王毓綱) told reporters outside Wu's office yesterday.

"At 11:12am a man suddenly rushed into the office, asked one of the assistants `Is the councilor here?' and then strode into Wu's office and shot him," Wang said.

"Wu was hit by four shots to his chest and his left arm and he fell down on the floor amid lots of blood," Wang said.

The vice commissioner added that the suspect left the site via scooter soon thereafter. Wu's terrified assistants reported the murder to the police, Wang said.

Wu was rushed to a nearby hospital, but doctors pronounced him dead at 1:08pm.

Wang said the suspect was about 175cm tall, spoke Mandarin and remained calm during the murder.

Security cameras nearby that filmed the suspect showed the assassin wearing a helmet and sunglasses, so his face was not clearly visible. He drove up on a scooter and stopped by a building near Wu's office, then pulled out a pistol before walking up the stairs to Wu's second floor office, the footage showed.

Police suspect that Wu's assassination was related to his having prevented gangsters from using illegal front companies to obtain government contracts in the county.

Sindian City Councilor Chou Zhih-ping (周志平) said Wu had concentrated on environmental protection issues during his tenure as a councilor.

Chou said he suspected that Wu's murder had something to do with gangsters' involvement in environmental construction projects.

The Taipei County Government has proposed an environmental clean-up of the largest river in the area, the Sindian River, and many companies are vying for projects related to the clean-up, as well as for contracts to dig sand and gravel out of the riverbed in order to deepen it.

Vice Commissioner Wang said police were probing whether gangsters had been involved in the awarding of contracts for the clean-up project, and whether Wu's death was related to the project.

Meanwhile, pan-blue lawmakers were quick to turn the murder into a political issue.

The PFP yesterday demanded that the police solve the murder and catch the killer within one week.

PFP legislative caucus whip Fu Kun-chi (傅崑萁) said he had called National Police Agency Director-General Hou You-yi (侯友宜) to make the request.

"If [the crime is not solved in a week], Premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) has to step down to take responsibility," Fu said, adding that the shooting had boosted the party's determination to oust Chang.

In another setting, Criminal Investigation Bureau Deputy Commissioner Chen Yi-feng (陳逸峰) said it was inappropriate to ask the police to solve a case by a specific date.

"There are procedures that we have to go through during an investigation. The most important thing is to collect comprehensive evidence," Chen said.

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