Wed, Feb 02, 2005 - Page 2 News List

`Gas' and `rice' bombers facing similar sentences

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Although prosecutors have suggested a life sentence for suspected "gas bomber" Kao Po-chung (高寶中) but made no suggestion about a possible sentence for self-confessed "rice bomber" Yang Ju-men (楊儒門), prosecutors yesterday said that these two defendants will be facing similar punishments.

"Yang repeated his crimes many times, but Kao only blew up his minivan once," said Cheng Ker-sheng (鄭客盛), a Taipei prosecutor who was in charge of the investigation into the "rice bomber" case.

"While Kao is facing a potential life sentence, Yang will be facing either life sentence or the death penalty, although we did not suggest any sentence for him," he said.

Cheng yesterday responded to questions from the public about why no sentence had been suggested for Yang.

"We did not suggest any sentence for Yang because we understood that he was merely trying to fight for local rice farmers and did not intend to hurt anybody. However, that does not mean that what he did was right or that he will not be punished at all," Cheng said.

In addition to admitting responsibility for 17 explosions in northern Taiwan, Yang admitted to making 21 false bomb threats, Cheng said.

Yang's actions were in contravention of Article 7 of the Gun Control Act (槍砲彈藥管制條例), which stipulates that a violator may be sentenced to death, life in jail or a prison term of at least seven years.

"That is why I said Yang and Kao are actually facing similar punishments when judges begin to hear their cases," Cheng said.

Yang was indicted on Jan. 25. He is still being held at the Taipei House of Detention following a court decision to grant prosecutors' request for an extension to his term of detention.

The bomb threats began on Oct. 27 last year. The bomber's trademark was leaving a small packet of rice at the scene. He also left notes or letters expressing support for local rice farmers and condemning the importation of rice.

Kao, the suspected "gas bomber," was indicted on Monday. Suggesting a life sentence, prosecutors charged him with violation of the Gun Control Act, attempted murder, endangering public safety, arson and theft.

Kao allegedly told prosecutors that he had been upset about huge losses in the stock market and that he believed politics had affected the economy, which in turn made him lose a considerable amount of money.

It is suspected that Kao was behind the Dec. 9 incident in which 11 20kg gas tanks exploded in a stolen minivan next to the Taipei Railway Station. Nobody was injured in the explosion, although two vehicles were damaged.

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