Wed, Dec 01, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Two-year prison terms suggested for kidnappers

PUNISHMENT Chiayi prosecutors have asked for two-and-a-half years for two men caught in China, for involvement in kidnapping and extortion

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Notorious kidnappers Hsueh Chiu (薛球) and Chen Yi-hua (陳益華) were indicted on charges of extortion yesterday and a prosecutor suggested a two-year-and-six-month sentence for each man.

In addition to Hsueh and Chen, Chiayi prosecutor Wang Hui-hsin (王輝興) also indicted another four suspects who worked with Hsueh and Chen during some of their crimes.

The four accomplices are Chen Juei-fang (陳瑞芳), Kuo Hsi-jung (郭錫榮), Tsai Kuei-ker (蔡貴客) and Liao Chien-hsin (廖建信). Wang suggested the same sentence for Chen, Kuo and Tsai but did not suggest a sentence for Liao.

Hsueh and Chen Yi-hua are currently being detained. Chen Juei-fang and Kuo were both released on NT$500,000 bail yesterday and Tsai was released on NT$200,000 bail on Nov. 25. Liao was interrogated on Oct. 20 and later released.

"In the crime ring, Liao's role is the least important and he has been quite cooperative since our investigation began. As a result, we did not detain him or suggest any sentence for him," Wang said in an indictment.

According to the prosecutor, Hsueh and Chen Yi-hua met the rest of the four while fleeing to China in 2000.

Hsueh and Chen Yi-hua's indictment, follows a string of shootings and kidnappings, giving them a reputation as notorious bandits. But the pair has never been involved in a murder, according to police.

Most recently they have been linked to the kidnapping of the three sons and a brother-in-law of a wealthy Chiayi businessman in March last year, as well as the kidnapping of Taichung City Council Speaker Chang Hung-nien (張宏年), who was then-vice speaker, in 2002.

Hsueh and Chen Yi-hua released the hostages in the Chiayi case after a ransom to the tune of NT$4.8 million was paid. Chang was released when his family handed over an undisclosed sum, rumored to be in the neighborhood of NT$300 million.

Later, a dispute erupted between prosecutors and judges after Hsueh and Chen Yi-hua were arrested by Miaoli police on March 21, 2000, but were released the same day by the Miaoli District Court on bail of NT$200,000 and NT$300,000, respectively.

Hsueh and Chen Yi-hua have been on the run ever since until they were nabbed by Chinese police and escorted back to Taiwan in August.

In the six-man crime ring, Kuo proposed the idea of blackmailing Yang Teng-kuei (楊登魁), the owner of local cable TV station GTV, and Taiwanese Entertainment Union head Yang Kuang-you (楊光友) in June this year. They decided to ask for NT$50 million from Yang Teng-kuei's family and another NT$100 million from Yang Kuang-you's family.

Their plan was to record a threatening statement made by Hsueh and Chen Yi-hua on two VCDs and then mail them separately to both Yangs. The VCD to Yang Kuang-you was never made public but the one sent to Yang Teng-kuei was shown by the police few days after it was received.

In the VCD, Chen Yi-hua told Yang Teng-kuei that they needed NT$50 million or he would have to "do something." Chen Yi-hua and Hsueh had allegedly signed a note, along with their fingerprints, and mailed it with the VCD.

In the footage, in addition to making the threatening "statement," Chen Yi-hua and Hsueh sat on a sofa and played with pistols and bullets.

On July 3, Chen Juei-fang and Tsai brought the two VCDs and the notes -- signed by Chen Yi-hua and Hsueh -- back to Taiwan and mailed them from Sanchung City, Taipei County, after which time the police were notified.

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