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Farmer solves dead crop mystery, catches culprit

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A rice farmer in Taitung yesterday solved a mystery that had puzzled him for four years after catching a man allegedly poisoning his crops, police said.

All of his spring crops have died since 2011 around Tomb Sweeping Day from no apparent cause. His neighbors' farms have seen nothing of the sort, and his other crops of the year have not suffered the same fate.

This year the farmer, surnamed Chen, decided to solve the mystery and patrolled his fields every night starting from April 1, a few days before Tomb Sweeping Day.

According to police, in the early hours of yesterday, he spotted a man spraying chemicals on his crops. He called the police and had the man arrested.

The 50-year-old suspect, who now lives in New Taipei, told police that he had a land dispute with the farmer and therefore poisoned his crops whenever he returned to his Taitung hometown for Tomb Sweeping Day for the past few years.

The farmer is seeking compensations of NT$400,000 for the four years of lost crops.

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