Wed, Jul 28, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Military willing to assist with manhunt for Chang

IF NEEDED As the search for Chang Hsi-ming and an accomplice continued in the south, the defense ministry said it would help if prosecutors made a formal request

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Fully armed and wearing bulletproof vests, members of the Coast Guard Administration's 42nd Battalion conduct boat inspections at Taihsi Fishing Port in Yunlin County as part of the effort to prevent gangster Chang Hsi-ming and his accomplice Chen Chin-hsiung from fleeing the country.

PHOTO: LIN KUO-HSIEN, TAIPEI TIMES

The military is willing to help, if asked, with the manhunt for fugitive Chang Hsi-ming (張錫銘) and his accomplice Chen Chin-hsiung (陳進雄), who remained at large as of press time last night.

"According to Article 249 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (刑事訴訟法), we will assign our soldiers to help arrest criminals upon prosecutors' request," Major General Huang Suei-sheng (黃穗生), the ministry's spokesman, said at the ministry's weekly press conference yesterday in response to reporters' questions.

Article 249 says, "If necessary, a prosecutor may request a nearby military commander to send troops to assist."

Asked whether the military will deploy members of its special forces or regular soldiers to help if prosecutors file their application, Huang said senior officers will discuss operations with police and make suggestions before any troops are sent.

"We will take into consideration how many soldiers are required, what kinds of soldiers are asked for and what kind of military weapons will be needed," he said.

However, as of press time yesterday, prosecutors had not yet asked for the military's help.

Monday gunbattle

Chang and three accomplices shocked the nation by engaging in a massive gunbattle with police as they attempted to escape a raid early Monday morning on a farm in Taliao, Kaohsiung County.

More than 300 police officers and SWAT team members took part in the raid. Police estimate that more than 3,000 bullets were fired during the shootout.

Chang and Chen were able to escape after seizing two hostages and a car, but Lin Kuo-chung (林國忠) and Lee Jin-cheng (李金成) were arrested. Lin suffered a minor gunshot wound.

An estimated 200 SWAT team members took part in the search for the two fugitives in mountainous areas in Tainan County yesterday while police set up roadblocks in the area and conducted a series of raids.

There was no sign of the pair.

The Chinese-language media reported yesterday that the police had sought permission to use a military armored vehicle for Monday's raid but were turned down -- forcing the police to improvise their own"armored" vehicles by loading maintainance vehicles with sandbags.

National Police Agency's Criminal Investigation Bureau Commissioner Hou You-yi (侯友宜), however, said the military had not refused to help with the raid.

The police decided to use their own gear because, "We can take care of this," he said.

Kidnapping ring

Chang and his colleagues became wanted fugitives after they were implicated in a recent kidnapping.

Last Tuesday there were reports that Yang Shang-shu (楊尚書), the 30-year old second son of Hohsin Bus Co owner Yang Chin-yuan (楊錦元), had been kidnapped on July 2. A ransom of more than NT$36 million was reportedly paid for his release.

The Yangs had remained silent about the alleged abduction and ransom payment.

Hohsin is one of the nation's major bus companies, posting annual profits of more than NT$20 million.

Lee and Lin reportedly admitted to involvement in four kidnapping cases that the Chang Hsi-ming gang is suspected of being behind.

Meanwhile, four police officers who were injured in Monday's gunfight are reported to be in good condition.

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