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Truth behind 3/19 Shooting Incident must be uncovered

Dr. Henry Lee, who was born in mainland China and raised in Taiwan, is a world-renowned forensic expert. He is Chief Emeritus of Scientific Services for the State of Connecticut, and occasionally lectures in forensic science at the University of New Haven, where he has helped establish the Henry C. Lee Forensic Institute. He has worked on many landmark cases, such as the JonBenet Ramsey murder, the O.J. Simpson trial, Laci Peterson case, and the Washington, D.C. sniper shootings. He is often invited to investigate criminal cases in Taiwan as well.

In 2004, Lee came to Taiwan to help clear up a mystery surrounding what has come to be known as the 3/19 Shooting Incident. After probing the case, he issued a report that was welcomed by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), but disappointed the opposition.

One of the most keenly contested presidential elections in ROC history was held on March 20, 2004. In the run-up to the election, the opposition ticket of Lien Chan and James Soong was leading the DPP’s Chen Shui-bian and Annette Lu by about 10 percent in the polls.

However, on the eve of the election, news media reported that there had been an attempt on President Chen’s life. According to reports, Chen and running mate Vice President Lu were injured by bullets in the windshield of their jeep while they were traveling in the southern county of Tainan to canvass voter support.

Both were sent to a Tainan hospital for emergency treatment. News reports said that one bullet grazed President Chen’s abdomen and another hit Vice President Lu’s leg. The injuries did not seem to be serious, the reports said.

The incident is believed to have played a decisive role in the DPP’s victory in the presidential election. After the incident took place, the government issued a national security alert, although it did not suspend the election. The action prevented thousands of police and troops, most traditional supporters of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT), from voting in the election.

Also, the notion of an assassination attempt apparently won much sympathy for the Chen-Lu ticket. Many pro-DPP radio stations in southern Taiwan alleged the KMT or the Chinese Communists were behind the incident.

The result: DPP candidates beat their rivals by a harrowing 0.22 percent at the polls.

The opposition suspected the 3/19 Incident was a ploy devised by the DPP to secure the election, insisting the injuries Chen and Lu reportedly suffered were self-inflicted.

Police investigations into the case went on for months, and Dr. Lee was invited to participate in the probe. The famous criminologist did not agree with the notion that the incident was a staged act.

On Aug. 17, 2005, the police formally wrapped up their investigation of the case, claiming that a Tainan City resident named Chen Yi-hsiung, who committed suicide, fired the shots that injured President Chen and Vice President Lu.

Most, including the vice president herself, were skeptical about the announcement. There is every reason the case needs to be investigated again.

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