Sentences for high-speed train bombers cut
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-06-24 02:39 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Taiwan High Court on Tuesday cut the prison sentences for two men accused of plotting to explode bombs on a high-speed train by two years to 20 and 10 years respectively.

Lawyer Hu Tsung-hsien and his accomplice, taxi driver Chu Ya-tung, cooperated on a plan to put bombs on a train and at the office of a Kuomintang lawmaker in New Taipei City in the hope of creating casualties which would provoke a sharp decline on the futures market, allowing them to make steep profits.

On January 22, the New Taipei District Court sentenced Hu as the mastermind behind the plot to 22 years in prison, while Chu, who actually placed the bombs on the train and outside legislator Lu Chia-chen’s office, received 12 years.

The High Court cut the sentences by two years each, but maintained the charges of attempted murder. Appeals were still possible, with the two suspects’ attorneys and relatives saying the sentences were still too harsh. Hu’s attorney said he would advise his client to file an appeal.

Both men were taken from the Taipei Detention Center to the court to hear the verdicts. Hu reportedly walked with difficulty as he had contracted a skin disease in prison due to an allergy to medicine. Neither man showed any emotion when they heard the court’s decision, reports said.

On April 12 last year, Chu boarded a northbound high-speed train at Taichung and left two suitcases with explosives and chemical devices behind before disembarking at Hsinchu. He joined Hu and together they drove up to New Taipei City’s Tucheng District, where he disguised himself as a police officer to leave two more cases with bombs and chemicals outside Lu’s office. A religious festival was taking place in the neighborhood at the time and a procession was likely to pass the site, reports said.

On the train, a gasoline smell alerted passengers to the pieces of luggage, which led to the authorities stopping the train and launching a high-profile investigation. As media were still reporting about the train scare, police found the abandoned suitcases near the lawmaker’s office.

The same day, Hu and Chu boarded a flight to Macau before traveling on to China. Police in Guangdong arrested them two days later and repatriated them to Taiwan on April 16.

In court, Hu claimed he was motivated by anger at the widening gap between rich and poor and said the explosives on the train were not designed to cause widespread injuries. The judge said he was using the claims as excuses to hide his greed.

Chu was also motivated by greed and claimed he had been threatened by Hu to place the devices. There were reports that the attorney might have intended for his associate to be killed in the blast on the train or later at Lu’s office, since all bombs were timed to explode more or less at the time that Chu was placing them.

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