Taiwanese prosecutors yesterday cleared Sean Lien Sheng-wen, son of Kuomintang honorary chairman Lien Chan, of staging a shooting of himself the day before last month's municipality elections in a bid to sway the outcome.
However, three weeks after the gunman was arrested and an extensive inquiry launched, they stopped short of revealing the motive.
Local authorities had been under mounting pressure since the incident amid various conspiracy theories, including one that the shooting was orchestrated.
'What can be ascertained is that we have ruled out the claim by certain people that the shooting was self-directed,' said Chen Cheng-feng, spokeswoman for the Banqiao Prosecutors' Office in Xinbei city, formerly known as Taipei county.
Lien was shot at close range by gunman Lin Cheng-wei during a campaign rally in Yungho on November 26. The bullet killed a bystander after hitting Lien's left cheek and exiting near his right temple.
The gunman insisted he shot Lien by mistake, despite having tried to pull the trigger a second time.
Politicians from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party claimed the shooting greatly benefited the KMT, which was originally expected to lose at least one city in the election. Though it was beaten by the DPP by five percentage points in terms of total vote share, the KMT held onto the three cities it controlled - a result the DPP claimed was due to sympathy votes. Some DPP politicians suggested the shooting may have been staged.
On March 19, 2004, then president Chen Shui-bian and vice-president Annette Lu Hsiu-lien were targeted in an assassination attempt while campaigning in Tainan the day before a presidential election. Both were released from hospital the same day, and won the election over Lien Chan and James Soong by 23,000 votes out of 12.8 million cast.
Chen Cheng-feng said yesterday the gun used by the suspect was a fully functioning weapon from Germany. She also confirmed the bullet's path. 'The single bullet created one injury [Sean Lien] and one death.'
Asked about the motive behind the shooting, Chen Cheng-feng said prosecutors were still investigating and would address the issue only after everything was clear.
Sean Lien left hospital about a week after the shooting and made his first public appearance last Friday. Doctors said his condition was stable but he would need medical care for some time. They said they would discuss with Lien whether cosmetic surgery was required, but only after his wounds were fully healed.