Mon, May 22, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Dead suspect's home becomes a tourist attraction

POPULAR SPOT Streets around the Taitung home of deceased suspect Lee Shuang-chuan have been clogged with sightseers and opportunistic vendors

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Taitung County home of a key figure, now deceased, in the March train derailment incident and suspected murder on the Southern Link Line has become a sightseeing destination -- with buses and cars bringing hundreds of visitors to get a glimpse of the family at the center of the prolonged drama.

The deceased murder suspect Lee Shuang-chuan's (李雙全) elder brother Lee Tai-an (李泰安) and his 82-year-old father Lee Chu-pao (李聚寶), have become celebrities after continuous media coverage since the incident.

According to a report in yesterday's Chinese language newspaper the United Daily News, on Saturday three buses brought more than 100 people to the Lee residence.

The tourists went to gawk at Lee Tai-an and Lee Chu-pao and take pictures of them. Yesterday, the roads outside the Lees' home were crowded with food vendors, cars and people.

Several local TV news stations reported that one of Lee's neighbors has opened a coffee shop in the backyard of the Lee home, with the consent of Lee Tai-an. Several pictures have appeared in the media of Lee Tai-an chatting with visitors at the coffee shop.

The hubbub around the Lee's home goes back to the night of March 17, when a westbound Taitung to Kaohsiung express train derailed. The passengers aboard that train included Lee Shuang-chuan, a Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) employee, and his Vietnamese spouse Chen Hong-chen (陳氏紅琛).

Chen died in the hospital after the derailment. Prosecutors' suspicions of Lee Shuang-chuan were aroused because he had taken out a NT$20 million (US$625,000) insurance policy on his wife, which covered accidental death, just days before the derailment.

Prosecutors then discovered that Chen had been poisoned, which they suspect happened before she boarded the train. Investigators suspect that Lee Shuang-chen may have poisoned his wife and deliberately caused the train derailment to mask her murder.

Lee Shuang-chuan's previous wife, who was also Vietnamese, died four years ago after being bitten by a poisonous snake, according to the Lee family.

Lee Shuang-chuan hung himself outside his home on March 23 after Pingtung prosecutors began to suspect his involvement in the derailment.

Prosecutors also suspect that Lee Shuang-chuan's elder brother Lee Tai-an (李泰安) conspired with his brother in the incident, but they are still searching for evidence and have not yet charged Lee Tai-an.

Lee Tai-an denies any involvement in the derailment incident or in Chen's death, and his father Lee Chu-pao insists that both of his sons are innocent.

The derailment incident and the Lee family have been making headlines since March. Local reporters have stayed at Lee's home and interviewed Lee Tai-an and Lee Chu-pao about every new development in the case.

TRA's Taitung to Kaohsiung Southern Link Line has been vandalized six times since 2004.

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