Fri, Oct 19, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Police guard gangster's temporary funerary hall

BAMBOO The assassin of historian Henry Liu had been living in self-imposed exile in Cambodia until his health declined. He then sought medical help in Hong Kong

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH AGENCIES

Police SWAT team members yesterday stand guard as the body of Chen Chi-li, the spiritual leader of the Bamboo Union, arrives at a temporary funeral hall in Dazhi, Taipei City.

PHOTO: CHIEN JUNG-FONG, TAIPEI TIMES

More than 1,000 police officers were yesterday stationed at the temporary funeral hall for former Bamboo Union gang leader Chen Chi-li (陳啟禮) in the Dazhi area (大直) of Taipei City.

Chen, who turned the Bamboo Union into one of Taiwan's largest gangs, died of pancreatic cancer in Hong Kong on Oct. 4. He was 64. His body was delivered back to Taiwan from Hong Kong yesterday and arrived at the temporary funeral services site around 2pm.

In addition to the police officers, at least another 500 people, including Bamboo Union members, Chen's friends and family members gathered at the shrine to greet Chen's casket.

Local television broadcast live coverage of the plane carrying Chen's body, with his family, friends and some 100 reported gang members landing at around noon.

"We want to make sure that gang members do not take advantage of the opportunity to promote gang activity or recruit new members," said Kao Cheng-sheng (高政昇), deputy commissioner for the Criminal Investigation Bureau.

Wu Dun (吳敦), a former Bamboo Union member and a good friend of Chen's, said that the final date for Chen's funeral service has yet to be decided, but should be sometime early next month.

The Bamboo Union was established in 1957.

For decades the gang remained Taiwan's most powerful gang, comprising mainly people who fled China's civil war in 1949. It later backed the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government in their suppression of political dissidents.

Chen, wanted in Taiwan for organized crime, had been living in self-imposed exile in Cambodia since 1996. In August he was hospitalized in Hong Kong after his health declined.

The gang boss is best known for his involvement in the October 1984 shooting death of an author of an unflattering biography of president Chiang Ching-kuo.

Chen and several fellow gang members flew to San Francisco and gunned down Taiwanese-American writer Henry Liu (劉宜良), better known by his pen-name Jiang Nan (江南), at his home in the suburb of Daly City.

Liu's widow, Tsui Ron-chi (崔蓉芝), told ETTV Cable News earlier from San Francisco that her late husband was but one of several journalists, writers and dissidents targeted for assassination by the KMT.

"Chen Chi-li was sacrificed for our patriotic struggle," she said. "The murder gave Taiwanese dissidents an unprecedented chance" to win over support for their democratic campaign," she said.

Chen was nabbed in Taiwan one month later during a crackdown on organized crime.

At the trial, he said that the murder was ordered by a Taiwanese intelligence unit chief who claimed Liu spied for Taiwan, China and the US.

Chen and an accomplice in the killing were both sentenced to life in prison after Taiwan rejected a US demand to extradite the two for trial there.

Chen served six years in a Taiwanese jail before being paroled. Three senior intelligence officials were also jailed.

He later fled to Cambodia during another government crackdown on organized crime.

Chen is survived by his wife Chen Yi-fan (陳怡帆), three sons and three daughters.

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