Thu, Jul 02, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Report sheds light on 1981 mystery

WHITE TERROR Authorities had said files related to professor Chen Wen-chen’s case had disappeared, but an investigator found records in the National Archives

By Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday called on the government to re-examine the case of Chen Wen-chen (陳文成), a math professor who is believed to have been murdered in 1981 during the White Terror era by the then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government, after a missing police file on Chen was recently uncovered.

“In order to give the public a clear and fair explanation, the government should investigate any unresolved cases that occurred during the White Terror era, including Chen’s murder, if and when any new evidence is revealed,” DPP Spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) said at a press conference.

In March, Minister of Justice Wang Ching-feng (王清峰) instructed prosecutors to set up a team to re-investigate Chen’s case as well as the murder of the family members of another pro-independence movement leader and former DPP chairman, Lin Yi-hsiung (林義雄).

Cheng said that during past investigations, the authorities had repeatedly said a written statement by Chen and audiotapes of his interrogation had disappeared.

However, a member of the Ministry of Justice team discovered Chen’s police file in the National Archives a few days ago, CNA reported.

The file shows that Chen told his interrogators that he had set up a foundation with 10 branches to support Formosa Magazine and push for democratic reform in Taiwan.

The branches collected donations and sent them back to the magazine via Shih Ming-teh (施明德), who later became chairman of the DPP.

The record shows Chen was questioned by the Garrison Command, a secret police body operated by the government, from 9am until 9:30pm on July 2, 1981.

The 31-year-old professor’s body was found on the campus of National Taiwan University the next day.

An autopsy report at the time said judging from Chen’s injuries, he had fallen to his death from either the fourth or fifth floor of a building, CNA said. However, it is still unclear whether the professor was pushed or committed suicide.

Calling the White Terror era one of the biggest blemishes in Taiwan’s history, Cheng said the DPP demanded that the government get to the bottom of all unresolved cases to achieve genuine transitional justice.

Chen was a native of Taipei and had earned an advanced degree in statistics from universities in the US. Upon receiving his doctorate, he was invited to join the teaching staff at 耶arnegie-Mellon University’s statistics department.

During his time in the US, the professor became involved in a movement fighting for more native Taiwanese to become government policy makers.

In May 1981, Chen, along with his wife and one-year-old son, returned to Taiwan for a vacation. However, shortly before their scheduled departure for the US, Chen was notified that his permit to leave the country had been rejected and he was wanted for questioning at the Garrison Command. On July 2, two Garrison Command agents showed up on Chen’s doorstep and took him away.


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