Tue, Feb 01, 2005 - Page 2 News List

`Gas bomber' indicted, faces life

`DANGER TO THE PUBLIC' The man who is accused of blowing up a gas-tank laden minivan in front of the Taipei Railway Station has been formally charged by prosecutors

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The alleged "gas bomber," Kao Pao-chung (高寶中), who was indicted by Taipei prosecutors yesterday, could face life imprisonment.

"His behavior endangered public safety, so we decided to seek a life sentence for him," said Lin Bang-liang (林邦樑), spokesman for the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office.

Lin read the indictment, and said that Kao lost a lot of money investing in the stock market. As a result, he often complained about politics, believing that it was politics that affected the economy and made him lose so much money, prosecutors said.

According to the indictment, Kao began to plan his crime last October. He cased a target location in the beginning of November, then decided to carry out his plan in the outdoor parking lot next to the Taipei Railway Station.

The 46-year-old unemployed Kao, was identified and arrested on Dec. 17. He is accused of being involved in an explosion in a minivan at an outdoor parking lot next to Taipei Railway Station on Dec. 9.

A minivan had been loaded with 11 20kg gas tanks, and exploded around noon on Dec. 9. The explosion did not injure anyone, but it destroyed two vehicles parked next to the minivan.

Video footage of Kao was captured on a local security surveillance system and he was quickly identified by police through a fingerprint match. He confessed to the crime after being arrested at his Taichung residence on Dec. 17, police said.

The police investigation showed that the minivan used in the crime was stolen from a used car dealership in Taichung County. Police also discovered that Kao leased an apartment in Taichung City's Hsi-tun District at the price of NT$15,000 a month on Nov. 8. Kao later told the police that he had experimented with bomb-making at the location, but had never succeeded in making a suitable explosive device. As a result, he decided to ignite gas tanks in the minivan instead.

On Dec. 18, Kao was released on NT$100,000 bail, after judges said: "Kao's offense is not one that would lead to a sentence of more than five years, and he has been cooperative ever since he was arrested. So we decided to release him on bail."

Taipei prosecutors immediately filed an appeal asking asking for Kao to remain in police custody, and their appeal was granted by the Taiwan High Court.

On Dec. 30, the Taipei District Court reheard the case regarding Kao's release on bail. This time, different judges again decided that Kao should not be released, and that he had to remain in custody for at least another three months.

Now that Kao has been indicted, prosecutors have to either file a request for an extension of his detention, or immediately release him on bail.

As of press time yesterday, prosecutors had yet to reach a decision as to Kao's disposition while he awaits trial.

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