Thu, May 22, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Defense chief stuns lawmakers with 319 comments

OFF THE SUBJECT The minister was briefing the Diplomacy and National Defense Committee when he went off on a tangent, raising the ire of some DPP lawmakers

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Minister of National Defense Chen Chao-min (陳肇敏) says "the wounds on former president Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) stomach were not caused by the 319 shooting."

“According to our initial investigation, his belly wounds were not caused at the scene of the shooting,” the new minister told lawmakers during his first briefing to the legislature’s Diplomacy and National Defense Committee yesterday morning.

His remarks came as a surprise because he had been talking about a different issue.

“I am making this comment as a member of the 319 Shooting Truth Investigation Special Committee (三一九槍擊事件真相調查特別委員會). My comments are not made against the former president but only as the truth,” Chen Chao-min said.

He did not say why he had raised the issue and he did not elaborate.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯), however, was irritated by the comments.

“Are you calling Chi Mei Hospital president Chan Chi-hsien (詹啟賢) a liar, since Chan was the first person to see the former president’s wounds?” Tsai said.

Chan Chao-min responded that Chan had not been the first person in attendance on Chen Shui-bian, but again refused to elaborate.

The March 19, 2004, shooting came on the eve of the presidential election as Chen Shui-bian and former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) were campaigning in Tainan City. They won the election by a narrow margin, causing some to believe the shooting was staged to win sympathy votes.

Chen Shui-bian received two slight wounds to his abdomen, while Lu was shot in the knee.

Police investigations named Tainan resident Chen Yi-hsiung (陳義雄) as the gunman.

Chen Yi-hsiung’s body was found in the sea off Tainan County 10 days after the shooting and police labeled his death a suicide.

The 319 Shooting Truth Investigation Special Committee was established by the pan-blue dominated legislature to investigate the incident, helped by well-known Chinese-American forensic scientist Henry Lee (李昌鈺).

The Council of Grand Justices ruled on Dec. 15, 2004, that the statute establishing the committee and the committee itself were unconstitutional.

Despite the committee’s failure to find any credible evidence of foul play, many pan-blue figures and supporters continue to believe the shooting was staged.

Lu responded yesterday by swearing on her life that the assassination attempt was not staged.

Lu said she regretted seeing distorted media reports after the shooting about a woman claiming to be a nurse at Chi Mei Hospital who claimed the incident was staged. Lu said the nurse’s comment was probably the result of a gross distortion of Chen Shui-bian’s request for medication at the time.

Additional reporting by Ko Shu-ling

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