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Kidnap victim arrives back in Taiwan
CIB fails to clarify ransom reports
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-12-21 02:30 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Chang An-wei arrived back in Taiwan Saturday noon, the day after being freed in a military rescue mission from captivity in the Southern Philippines.

A group of men believed to be linked to the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group abducted the 58-year-old woman from a holiday resort in the East Malaysian state of Sabah on November 15. Her friend, businessman Hsu Li-min, 57, was killed during the attack.

Her abductors reportedly spent most of the 36 days since the incident moving her around the Southern Philippines, close to the area where she was kidnapped.

At a news conference Saturday afternoon, the Criminal Investigation Bureau and Chang’s brother, Chang Ta-kung, failed to address the key question of whether Philippines military intervention or the payment of a ransom had led to the woman’s safe return. There was no word if any of the suspects had been arrested or killed.

Philippine marines found her in the village of Maimbung in the island province of Sulu Friday around 3:30 p.m. She first received a medical checkup and then traveled to Zamboanga City, the main town in the far south of the Philippines.

Just before Saturday noon, she and her brother boarded a China Air Lines flight in Manila which arrived at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport at around 1:16 p.m. Cable TV footage showed her waving at reporters. She was wearing large sunglasses and a long turquoise T-shirt as another woman helped her descend stairs to lead her to a minibus. Her first destination was reportedly National Taiwan University Hospital in Taipei for further medical tests.

CIB Commissioner Lin Te-hua, who welcomed her at the airport, told reporters her rescue was the result of cooperation between police and security forces from Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan.

At the news conference, Chang Ta-kung presented a friend as ‘Ching You’ who had helped the family to achieve the woman’s release. The two men smiled and shook hands for the cameras but the friend did not speak at the event.

Chang Ta-kung also turned down questions about the eventual payment of a ransom. Media reports speculated about sums ranging from NT$6.7 million (US$224,000) to NT$9 million (US$300,000) which might have been paid to the abductors.

Instead, he emphasized that his sister had not been mistreated and had received the best possible treatment under the circumstances. “They wanted money, they did not want to kill her,” he said, adding there had been no threats against her life. Her captors gave her the best possible food, but that was still bad, he explained.

In order not to affect her mood, the family decided initially not to let Chang An-wei known that Hsu had died in the attack, he said. The dead man’s relatives visited her at the hospital in Taipei, he told reporters.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its gratitude to the two Southeast Asian nations for their participation in the rescue effort. Government officials emphasized the smooth cooperation between the three countries and the emphasis on protecting Chang’s safety and meeting the requests of her relatives.

The Taipei District Prosecutors Office reportedly would wait until her health had recovered before evaluating the need to summon her for questioning about the case. Since the kidnapping happened overseas, Taiwan was expected to rely on international bilateral cooperation agreements to take further steps in the investigation.

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