Sun, Aug 21, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Teenager arrested over threatening letters

TOO MUCH TV:The suspect went to great lengths to avoid having the letters traced to him, including wearing gloves and using tongs to drop the letters into various mailboxes

By Chiu Chun-fu  /  Staff Reporter

A letter allegedly sent by a 15-year-old is signed Yanluowang, Chinese for Yama, the lord of death.

Photo: Chiu Chun-fu, Taipei Times

A junior-high school student in Yunlin County on Friday was arrested for allegedly sending numerous threatening letters to heads of government agencies, the police said.

According to the police, the 15 year-old suspect, surnamed Liu (劉), grew up in a well-off farming family and often watched political talk shows, such as 2100 Talk Show (2100全民開講) on TVBS and occasionally Talking Show (大話新聞) on SET-TV.

Liu was quoted by the police as saying that he only sent the letters to officials he was dissatisfied with after seeing the heated debates on the shows.

According to the police, Liu mailed letters, written in traditional Chinese calligraphy, with statements such as “Just die,” “This is a bomb,” “I’m burning you” and “Bury you alive,” and some of the letters contained joss paper, paper money traditionally burned for the deceased and white envelopes that are traditionally given to families who have lost a relative.

To avoid having the letters traced back to him, Liu wore cotton gloves when he wrote the letters to avoid leaving fingerprints on the paper and wore a mask and safety-helmet when riding his bike to post the letters at mailboxes that were far from his house, the police said.

He even dropped the mail into the boxes using cooking tongs, the police added.

The police said Liu sent more than 100 letters and 48 had been brought to their attention. The letters were addressed to government agencies and officials such as the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Transportation and Communication, multiple local district prosecutors’ offices, judges, detention centers, county and city officials, chiefs of police stations, civilian corporations, as well as township mayors.

An additional nine unsent letters were found in Liu’s desk, the police said, which were addressed to the Executive Yuan and the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Agents from the Criminal Investigation Bureau’s First Investigation Team last week staked out mailboxes thought to be used by the perpetrator and discovered a suspicious man wearing a mask and safety helmet.

They followed the suspect into a grocery store and video taped the man’s profile when he pulled down the mask to have a drink, the police said, adding they later obtained information from the grocery shop owner that the man was a student at the local middle school. The bureau then obtained the suspect’s name and address from the school, police added.

Arriving at Liu’s house on Friday with a search warrant, police said they confiscated the unsent letters, backup copies of the mailed letters, stamps, joss paper and envelopes, adding they also found Liu had written the name “Ma Ying-jeou” (馬英九) on the cover of his notebook, which Liu later said was because he thought of himself as Ma.

After questioning Liu, the police transferred him to the juvenile court on charges of obstruction of safety by threat.

TVBS spokesperson Yeh Yu-chun (葉毓君) declined to comment on grounds that she was not yet acquainted with the matter, while SET-TV suggested parents should be mindful of what their children watch.

TRANSLATED BY JAKE CHUNG, STAFF WRITER

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