Mon, Aug 07, 2017 - Page 1 News List

S Korean suspect in DPP office theft caught in Wulai

QUESTIONS RAISED:Cho Jun-ki flew to Japan on Tuesday, but was sent back for not having a valid South Korean passport, yet somehow he was able to re-enter Taiwan

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

South Korean Cho Jun-ki is escorted by police officers following his arrest in New Taipei City’s Wulai District yesterday.

Photo: Yao Yue-hung, Taipei Times

A South Korean man wanted in connection with the theft of property from the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) headquarters on Tuesday, who briefly managed to flee the country, was apprehended yesterday in Wulai District (烏來), New Taipei City police said.

After receiving tip-offs from members of the public, police tracked down Cho Jun-ki, 34, and his South Korean girlfriend to the Pause Landis Resort (樸石麗緻溫泉會館), but Cho fled the hotel.

A police search located Cho in a roadside hut about noon and he was taken to the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) for questioning.

As he was escorted by police, Cho said: “Taiwan sorry.”

“The suspect is a wanted criminal; Interpol issued a red alert for him. He has been involved in more than 20 theft cases in South Korea and is a suspect of several thefts in Thailand, Macau and the Philippines,” Deputy CIB Chief Huang Ming-chao (黃明昭) said.

“It has been a successful operation. The tip-offs we received from the public and assistance from media outlets enabled us to narrow the search down to a small area,” he said.

A CIB team coordinated with local police to close off roads and hiking trails into the mountains around Wulai after receiving reports that a man fitting Cho’s description had been seen in the area, he said.

The bureau said Cho entered Taiwan on Monday last week on a tourist visa, arriving on a flight from Thailand, and took a room at the W Hotel in Taipei.

He allegedly entered the DPP’s headquarters early on Tuesday and took NT$90,000 and possibly other items.

As of press time last night, Cho was still being questioned by investigators, who want to know if he had any Taiwanese accomplices, if he carried out other thefts while in Taiwan, if he took any classified materials from the DPP office and whether he was acting on instructions from people or groups in Taiwan or another nation.

While the DPP issued a statement on Tuesday that said only money had been taken in the robbery, and that no files or equipment were touched, there are concerns that national security might have been compromised, as President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), as DPP chair, often holds meetings and consultations at the DPP’s offices.

Investigators said Cho had told them that he acted alone and the theft was not politically motivated.

“I just chose a big commercial building. It was a spur of the moment thing. I did not know it was the headquarters of Taiwan’s ruling party,” investigators quoted him as saying.

Questions have also been raised about National Immigration Agency procedures and security at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport because Cho on Tuesday left Taiwan on a Tigerair flight to Japan, but Japanese authorities refused him entry because he did not have a valid South Korean passport and he was put on a return fligh to Taiwan.

Despite the lack of a valid South Korean passport and being on Interpol’s red alert list, he was able to re-renter Taiwan.

Investigators believe that he might have been able to evade immigration procedures upon his return by going through an unguarded desk, or by jumping from the customs control floor to the ground floor.

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