Thu, Mar 21, 2002 - Page 4 News List

Yin killed over frigates, official says

REVELATION A former Ilan prosecutor who had led the investigation into the murder of Yin Ching-feng says he's positive the death was related to frigates

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

A former Ilan prosecutor yesterday said that navy captain Yin Ching-feng (尹清楓) was murdered over kickbacks related to the Lafayette-class frigate scandal, rather than over the issue of a German minesweeping vessel.

Ko Shih-bin (柯士斌), a former Ilan prosecutor who was the first head prosecutor in the Yin case in 1993, said that investigators suspected that important government officials and military leaders were involved, but according to Ko, failed to procure the evidence necessary to pursue them.

He said that according to the investigation, he was quite sure that Yin was murdered over the Lafayette-class frigate scandal.

"When Yin was murdered, the Lafayette-class frigate contract was the only case not yet closed. The kickbacks for the frigate contract as well as for the follow-up maintenance work contract were where the investigation was focused," he said.

Ko said that he began his investigation on Dec. 11, 1993, two days after Yin's body was found.

In 1995, he was transferred to the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office. In 1997, he retired from public office to become a private lawyer in Keelung.

"The biggest question mark on this case was -- who was the last person to see and talk to Yin?" said Ko. "Investigators never found any evidence, witnesses or received any anonymous tips. That is why investigators failed to answer that question."

Asked if investigators had certain suspects in mind in regard to Yin's murder, Ko's answer was affirmative.

"Definitely yes," he answered. "However, without any hard evidence or witnesses, Yin's death will always remain a mystery."

In a book by senior journalist Lu Keng (陸鏗) last October, Hau Pei-tsun (郝柏村), the former premier, alleged that Yin was murdered for kickbacks related to a minesweeping vessel contract with Germany. However, he did not explain why.

In 1989, Hau was the chief of the general-staff when the navy was considering signing the Lafayette-class frigate procurement contract with the French arms supplier Thomson-CSF, now called Thales.

Yin was the former head of the navy's Arms Acquisition Office. His body was found floating in the sea off the east coast of Taiwan on Dec. 9, 1993. His death prompted an investigation into irregularities surrounding the purchase of Lafayette-class frigates from France. Investigators believe that more than US$500 million in illegal commissions was paid.

Investigators showed that Yin was trying to collect evidence to protect himself once the scandal broke. As a result, it is believed that he was murdered by suspects who were beneficiaries of the kickbacks.

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