Sun, Aug 08, 2004 - Page 2 News List

PFP legislator urges steps to combat kidnappings

CNA , TAIPEI

A People First Party (PFP) legislator yesterday urged the government to convene a national anti-crime meeting to devise effective ways to crack down on crimes such as kidnappings that he said threatened the country's social stability.

PFP legislative caucus whip Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄) cited statistics from district prosecutors' offices around the country, indicating at a news conference that in 2001 there were a total of 13 kidnappings.

The number increased to 86 the following year, and to 98 last year, Liu said. The lawmaker said public security was deteriorating and residents of the country are suffering growing fears of criminal attacks after law enforcement authorities recently failed to nab Chang Hsi-ming (張錫銘), a fugitive suspected of having carried out several kidnappings in recent years.

Chang's last alleged crime took place on July 2 in Tainan, when a businessman apparently paid him NT$36 million (US$1.06 million) in exchange for the release of his adult son.

Late last month, the Criminal Investigation Bureau mobilized a 200-strong SWAT team after being tipped off on the whereabouts of Chang and three members of his alleged kidnapping ring. However, Chang and a supposed accomplice evaded capture and are still at large.

The police said Chang and his gang have committed four kidnappings this year alone, collecting ransoms of more than NT$100 million (US$2.49 million).

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