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May 29, 2017

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High court sentences HSR bomb suspect to 20 years

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- High-speed rail would-be bomber Hu Tsung-hien (胡宗賢) yesterday was sentenced by the Taiwan High Court to 20 years in prison on charges of attempted murder.

Hu's accomplice, Chu Ya-tung, was sentenced to 10 years and six months in prison by the high court. Both Hu and Chu's convictions are subject to appeal.

The New Taipei District Court earlier in January ruled that Hu and Chu would serve prison terms of 22 years and 12 years respectively over allegations that they made and placed bombs on a northbound train of Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) and in front of a legislator's office in 2013.

The incident was the first bomb threat on the high-speed train since the THSR became operational.

Hu Confesses for First Time

Hu, who is also a lawyer, for the first time admitted to his crimes and pleaded for the judges to levy a "lighter" punishment on him as he suffers from severe melancholia, according to the high court.

Hu's accomplice Chu, on the other hand, insisted that he did not have the intention or motive to murder people. Chu argued that he did not know the suitcases he placed on the train and the lawmaker's office contained bombs.

Chu further argued that it was not "explosives" in the cases with timing mechanisms, but "just" gasoline bombs. He said the explosives would not endanger the public's safety if they weren't ignited.

On April 12 last year Hu put several explosive chemical and gas devices in four suitcases and asked Chu to leave two of the suitcases on a high-speed train, the court said. After placing two suitcases on the train, Chu met up with Hu and drove a vehicle to Kuomintang lawmaker Lu Chia-chen's (盧嘉辰) office at Tucheng in New Taipei City.

Chu dressed in a police officer's uniform and left another two suitcases at Lu's office, the court said, noting that the suitcases were addressed to Hon Hai Chairman Terry Gou from President Ma Ying-jeou.

Noting that Hu went short on 500 lots of MSCI Taiwan Index futures and set a strike price at 281.2 points via the Internet after placing the bombs, the court said the two subsequently fled to mainland China via Macau on the same day.

Hu and Chu were arrested in Guangdong province on April 14 and were extradited back to Taiwan on April. 16. Hu lost NT$12.37 million on his investment that anticipated a market panic that did not materialize, the court said.

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