Sun, Jun 12, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Cheng released by kidnappers in Kaohsiung

LONG ORDEAL After holding the wealthy businessman for 10 days, kidnappers let him go on Friday night -- but it remained unclear whether a ransom was ever paid

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Deputy chairman of the Jenlan Temple Cheng Ming-kun was released yesterday after having been kidnapped for 10 days.

PHOTO: WANG YI-CHE, TAIPEI TIMES

The deputy chairman of the Jenlan Temple (鎮瀾宮) Cheng Ming-kun (鄭銘坤) was released Friday night after being held for 10 days by kidnappers, according to police.

"Police suspect that the Lin Ming-wha (林明樺) criminal group, which was involved in a brutal shooting at a tea house in Taichung last year, committed the kidnapping, and at least three people joined the kidnapping," said Tsai Chin-ba (蔡金霸), vice director of the Taichung County Police Bureau at a press conference yesterday afternoon.

He said police did not believe that notorious fugitive gangster Chang Hsi-ming (張錫銘) was involved in the crime.

Although Cheng's family was rumored to have paid a NT$25,000,000 (US$800,000) ransom, the family denies paying any such fee, the police said.

Cheng told police that the kidnappers did not abuse him. They gave him food, and let him take a shower several times during the 10-day ordeal. Tsai said Cheng is in good health.

According to police, late on the night of June 1, Cheng left his residence by scooter to go visit friends. Twenty minutes later, Cheng's wife received a phone call from one of the kidnappers, asking for a NT$100 million ransom payment.

Police said that after receiving immediate notification from the family, they found Cheng's scooter knocked over on a road near his residence.

Cheng told police a car intentionally hit him, and that kidnappers than put him in the car and took him to a house. He was kept tied up -- with his eyes and mouth covered -- for most of the next 10 days.

Cheng told police the kidnappers told him to pay up his debt of NT$8 million, but Cheng responded that he didn't owe anyone money.

On Friday night, Cheng was driven by car to Kaohsiung County and released. Cheng went home yesterday morning by himself.

Local newspapers said Cheng and Yen Ching-piao (顏清標), the chairman of Jenlan Temple in Tachia, Taichung County and also a legislator, have a very close relationship.

Both Yen and Cheng have criminal records. They were charged with forgery and breach of trust for misappropriating property from Jenlan Temple, and the case is still under investigation.

Local newspapers said that during the kidnapping, Yen and another unidentified person tried to bypass the police in order to communicate directly with the kidnappers.

Chinese-language newspapers have alleged that they tapped gang connections to rescue Cheng. Cheng's family paid a ransom, but they did not want police to investigate, because shady business disputes may have been connected to the kidnapping, the reports said.

One report said that police were bothered by the way "gang members dealt with other gang members."

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