Mon, Apr 12, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Lee: Chen didn't shoot himself

NO FAKING IT The US forensic specialist says it is impossible that the president shot himself, though he says he cannot determine if the shooting was staged

AGENCIES , TAIPEI

US forensic expert Henry Lee (李昌鈺) yesterday ruled out one of the more outlandish theories on the shooting of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) when he said the wound was not self-inflicted.

But after a whirlwind 48-hour investigation, Lee left Taiwan with many questions unanswered about the mysterious attack on the eve of the presidential election that is now at the center of a political storm.

The most important of them is whether the shooting was staged -- suspicions the opposition Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has raised in a lawsuit to nullify Chen's election victory.

"President Chen Shui-bian was shot and it wasn't self-inflicted," Lee told reporters before leaving for Hawaii yesterday after a two-day visit to Taiwan.

When asked if the attack on Chen was staged, Lee said: "I have no idea."

"Determining whether it was or not was not my job," Lee said.

Chen was gashed across the stomach and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) was wounded in the knee by two bullets fired from a homemade handgun as they campaigned in a jeep in the southern city of Tainan on March 19.

The KMT says the shooting may have been staged to win sympathy votes. Chen won the election by a razor-thin margin.

Lee, who has worked on high-profile cases such as the O.J. Simpson murder trial, came to Taiwan after the opposition demanded that impartial foreign experts join the government probe.

The former Taipei police captain said DNA analysis showed one of the homemade bullets contained fiber fragments consistent with clothes worn by Chen on the day he was shot, but added further examination of the bullets was needed.

"Taiwan investigators need to identify the weapon and the origins of the ammunition used," Lee said.

He also pointed out the rounded heads of the bullets, which reduced their ability to penetrate, and to the amount and quality of gunpowder used as areas that needed further investigation.

"The amount of gunpowder can be adjusted to alter the bullet's destructive power," said Lee, who refused to draw any conclusions from his investigation.

Lee said investigators need to examine marks on the bullets that help them find out who made them.

After recreating the crime scene and various possible bullet paths using high-tech lasers, Lee said two shots were fired from the crowds that lined the streets to cheer on Chen, but that is was impossible to determine if the attack was staged.

It was difficult to pinpoint the location of the shooter as the crime scene was not secured immediately after the shooting, he said.

Police officers say they have no suspects so far, but are seeking two men seen on security video leaving the scene within minutes of the attack, one on foot and the other on a scooter.

The KMT had proposed special legislation to set up an independent investigation into the shooting, but the ruling party shelved the bill at a legislative session on Friday.

KMT still says Chen may have had himself shot

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