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September 23, 2017

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Arson, hoax bomb suspect granted bail

The Taipei District Court has granted bail to a suspect allegedly behind an arson attack at the Taipei Railway Station and a series of hoax bomb threats ahead of the Dec.11 legislative elections.

A senior judge, Huang Chun-ming, said the release of Kao Pao-chung on NT$100,000 bail was an "independent judgment" of the judge handling the case in a legal manner.

But prosecutors said they would make an appeal to have the 46-year-old suspect taken into custody.

Kao was arrested Friday after fingerprints collected at the arson scene linked him to the attack.

A small van loaded with canisters of liquefied petrol gas exploded into flames on Dec.9 at an outdoor car park at the Taiwan Railway Station. No one was injured.

The arson attack was followed by a series of hoax bomb threats targeting some of the capital city's landmarks, including the world's highest building, the recently opened Taipei 101.

Messages sent to the media claimed that attacks were launched as a warning against Taiwan's independence.

The arson attack and the bomb threats came at a sensitive time when the nation was preparing to go to the polls two days later for a showdown between the pro-independence and pro-unification camps.

The court said the bail was granted because the suspect had been cooperative, and there had been no reason to believe he would repeat the alleged crimes.

But the prosecutors said Kao should have been taken into "preventive custody" although the crimes he had committed would not be considered felony.

The prosecutors said they were worried by the political motivations behind the case, saying the suspect might repeat the crimes in future elections.

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