Sun, Jun 12, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Miaoli official’s death not suicide, his family insists

FOUL PLAY?Lai Shao-pen’s body was found floating in Longfong Harbor on May 31, but his cellphone was traced to a neighboring town more than 10km away

By Rich Chang  /  Staff Reporter

The family of a Miaoli County official, who was found dead in a harbor late last month, say they suspect he was murdered and had not committed suicide as prosecutors seem to think.

The body of Lai Shao-pen (賴紹本), director of the Land Office of Miaoli County’s Jhunan Township (竹南), was found floating in the township’s Longfong Harbor (龍鳳漁港) early on May 31.

Investigators found Lai’s unlocked car parked at the harbor with a note inside written by Lai. The note was addressed to his wife, asking her to take care of his mother and their children.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Liu Chien-kuo (劉建國) yesterday held a press conference, asking investigators not to conclude too soon that the 61-year-old had committed suicide.

Lai’s wife and his younger sister said at the press conference that many family members and friends did not believe he committed suicide because he had not exhibited any signs of a desire to end his life, saying they suspected Lai might have been murdered because of land affairs for which he had been responsible.

Lai’s younger sister, Lai Pei-fang (賴佩坊), said the handwriting on the note her brother left was scratchy and contained several errors, which seems to indicate someone forced him to write the note.

She said a surveillance camera near Lai Shao-pen’s car would have filmed his activities before his death, but oddly the camera’s direction was changed before the incident.

She added that investigators traced her brother’s cellphone location to Zaociao Township (造橋) after his body was found, which is more than 10km from the harbor, indicating that someone had taken the cellphone.

Lai Shao-pen’s wife said he was set to retire this month and had planned to travel abroad with her. She added that they had a good relationship and that her husband was not ill or had financial problems. The evening before he died, she said, he was in a good mood when talking with the family about decorating one of their children’s homes.

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