A Taiwanese diplomat has been found dead in the Dominican Republic in an apparent case of murder, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said yesterday.
The victim was identified as 55-year-old Julia Ou (區美珍), a secretary involved in overseas compatriot affairs who had served in the Caribbean nation for more than a year, said Wu Chin-mu (吳進木), director-
general of the Department of Central and South American Affairs.
She was found stabbed to death at her home in Santo Domingo on Tuesday, Wu said.
A member of the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation — one of Taiwan’s biggest charities — Ou was described by her colleagues as a philanthropist who often helped the needy, Wu said.
Dominican Minister of Foreign Affairs Carlos Morales Troncoso called Ambassador Thomas Hou (侯平福) to express his concern, Wu said, and Hou requested the help of Dominican police to investigate Ou’s death.
The ministry will arrange for Ou’s family members to travel to the Caribbean nation to deal with the aftermath of her passing, he added.
When asked about the matter at a legislative hearing, Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission Minister Wu Ying-yih (吳英毅) said he visited Ou’s family soon after he was informed of her death at 1:15am yesterday.
Wu said he was told that Ou was working overtime and had been in her office until 10pm the night before she was found dead.
When Ou did not show up for work the following day and she did not answer calls, Hou went to her home with local police and found the door to her home open. Her room appeared to have been ransacked, leading to suspicions that she might have been killed by a burglar who followed her home, Wu said.
Ou Ming-te (區明德), the elder brother of the victim, said the family was “very shocked” at the news of her death.
He said his sister had always worked hard and was usually busy on the job.
He said they used to talk on the phone a lot when she was posted in Guatemala, but the calls became less frequent when she was transferred to the Dominican Republic.
His sister had planned to stay in the Dominican Republic for another three years and then retire and return to Taiwan to keep her elderly mother company, he added.
“But we won’t see her coming home ever again,” he said.
The brother said he would make a trip to the Dominican Republic to handle his sister’s affairs.
According to information from the commission, Julia Ou joined the organization in 1987 and was first dispatched overseas in 2000, when she was assigned to Guatemala.
Commission officials said the agency would help the bereaved family apply for survivors’ benefits and compensation, as Julia Ou’s death occurred in the line of duty.
The commission would also recommend her for a posthumous medal of honor, they said.