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Fasting hijacker's fate uncertain

DETENTION The Hsinchu Refugee Camp for Mainland Chinese has asked that hijacker Gao Jun be sent back to jail for his refusal to end his hunger strike

By Jou Ying-cheng  /  STAFF REPORTER

The most notable and shocking act of the hijackers took place on Feb. 8, 1999, when three of them repeated the crime. On their pre-repatriation flight from Hsinchu to Kinmen with six other hijackers, Yang Mingde (楊明德), Lin Wenqiang (林文強) and Wang Zhihua (王志華) injured Jan Jyh-horng (詹志宏), deputy secretary general of the Straits Exchange Foundation, with a sharp iron weapon and demanded that the plane be flown to Guam.

The attempt failed and the trio were brought back to Taiwan and convicted of hijacking a second time. They are now in the process of appeals.

Several officials were disciplined over the incident, including the refugee camp director, who was replaced because he was deemed to have been negligent in failing to prevent the trio from making the weapon and taking it on board the plane.

The state watchdog Control Yuan also formally condemned the National Police Administration and demanded the refugee camp enhance the management of hijackers being held on probation.

The reasons for hijackers' inclination to be emotionally frustrated are multifold, successive directors of the refugee camp have said.

First, unlike other inmates, most of whom are illegal immigrants, the hijackers will still face further trials and harsh punishments after they go back to China.

It was reported that the first repatriated Chinese hijacker, Huang Shugang (黃樹剛), who hijacked a flight to Taiwan on April 6, 1993 and was sent back to China in July 1997, was sentenced to 20 years in jail -- although the three years and nine months he served in Taiwan counted toward the new sentence.

Former camp directors also said that by escaping China the hijackers expected to receive a hero's treatment in Taiwan, as was the case for their counterparts during the Cold War era. However, the change of history put them instead behind bars, and they found the reality hard to accept.

Besides, Lai said, some hijackers see themselves as superior to ordinary illegal immigrants. "They regard themselves as coming to Taiwan with a brave act and a political belief and they believe they are different from others who came here on boats just to get a job," Lai said.

"Therefore, some of them don't get along very well with other inmates."

As Lai gave the Taipei Times reporters a tour of a secure zone dormitory, an inmate shouted: "Sir! Someone hit me!"

The man who shouted was Han Shuxue (韓書學), Lai said. Han and his partner Li Xiangyu (李向譽) hijacked a Chinese Northern Airlines MD-82 jet armed with a scalpel and a sphygmomanometer -- the pump device nurses use to measure a patient's blood pressure -- on Nov. 12, 1993.

Han was sentenced to 11 years and was paroled and sent to the refugee camp in February 1999. Li has already been sent back to China. Lai said Han has been noisy for more than a month this time.

"He has been very fussy and likes to make complaints against camp staff and other inmates," Lai said, "However, his situation is not very serious and what we do is admonish him."

There are now six hijackers waiting to be repatriated in the camp, excluding Yuan Bin (袁斌) and his wife Xu Mei (徐梅). Yuan was himself a captain and he flew a B737 plane to Taiwan on Oct. 28, 1998.

Lai said the couple behaves very well in the camp and that they are allowed to visit each other weekly.

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