Thu, Jan 18, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Minister defends record after policeman's death

'WORSE THAN MEXICO'S' KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng said that the government has allowed an 'undisciplined' police force that has led to a worsening of public safety

By Max Hirsch  /  STAFF REPORTER

One day after a Kaohsiung police officer allegedly committed suicide following his arrest for murder, Minister of the Interior Lee Yi-yang (李逸洋) touted his ministry's crime-fighting record in the legislature yesterday.

The National Police Agency under the ministry has been stung by a string of cases involving officers committing crimes since Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) pledged to improve public safety in March last year.

"Public safety has worsened since the premier pledged to crack down on crime," Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) said in a legislative committee.

"Police officers are out there raping women," he added.

Responding to lawmakers' criticism that Kaohsiung police officer Lee Hsing-ho (李心和) killed himself while in police custody, police agency Director-General Hou You-yi (侯友宜) said the suspect had already posted bail.

Lee Hsing-ho was detained on suspicion of murdering a Kaohsiung woman, posting bail on Tuesday afternoon.

According to local media, the suspended officer then returned to his police bureau that evening, where he fraternized with colleagues before throwing himself off the eighth floor.

Hou confirmed reports that Lee Hsing-ho had been drinking tea with colleagues on the bureau's third floor and had gone up to the eighth floor alone after excusing himself to go to the bathroom.

While speaking to legislators on the nation's biggest-ever cash heist on Jan. 3, Hou also said that a security guard who was allegedly drugged by a co-worker during the heist was a suspect in the case.

Former security guard Lee Han-yang (李漢揚) allegedly drugged his colleague while the two were transporting NT$79.2 million (US$2.4 million) to Taipei banks. With his partner reportedly incapacitated, Lee Han-yang then stole NT$56 million and fled to China.

He has since been apprehended by Chinese authorities.

KMT Legislator Lee Ching-hua (李慶華) said there was no evidence suggesting the partner had been drugged, adding that he was most likely an accomplice.

Hou, meanwhile, said that China would extradite Lee Han-yang "very soon." As for the missing NT$56 million, police officials yesterday said the cash was probably still in Taiwan, but that their search was continuing.

Minister Lee told skeptical lawmakers in the committee meeting that crime rates nationwide were dropping.

However, he admitted that "more than 200 police officers among the total 67,000 nationwide are corrupt and regularly engage in criminal behavior."

Slamming the minister for leading an "undisciplined" police force, Wu said that Taiwan's police were "worse than Mexico's."

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