The mainland is expected to soon return a Taiwanese suspect involved in the controversial election-eve shooting of then Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian in 2004.
Tang Shou-yi, who sold a gun he made to the alleged gunman and fled to the mainland in 2006, was recently arrested at a hideout in Xiamen by mainland police, Taiwanese media reported yesterday.
He will be sent back to the island before the beginning of the Lunar New Year on February 10 under an agreement signed by Taipei and Beijing in 2010 on joint efforts to crack down on cross-strait crime, the Liberty Times said, quoting an unnamed source.
Taiwanese police said yesterday it was not convenient for them to confirm whether Tang had been arrested in Xiamen or if he would be returned in the next few weeks.
"We have been closely following the case," a member of the Special Investigation Division's 3-19 Shooting Incident task force would only say.
The mysterious shooting took place on March 19, 2004, a day before Taiwanese voters were to choose between the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party's Chen, who was seeking a second term, and the Kuomintang's challenger Lien Chan, a former vice-president.
Chen was campaigning with his running mate, then vice-president Annette Lu Hsiu-lien, in Tainan that day, standing in the back of an open-topped Jeep as it moved slowly through a crowded street, when a bullet penetrated the windshield of the vehicle and grazed his stomach. Another bullet fired from a different gun also went through the windshield and hit Lu's right knee.
Their assailant or assailants fled without being noticed and Chen and Lu were rushed to hospital for emergency treatment. Chen and Lu were re-elected the next day, in a narrow victory that Lien and the KMT claimed was a result of a sympathy vote.
Police later found the bullet casings and traced them to Tang. He was arrested in 2005 and told police that he had sold the home-made gun to Chen Yi-hsiung, a fisherman. But Chen Yi-hsiung was found dead in a pond, 10 days after the shooting.
The judicial authorities finally closed the case, saying the suspect was already dead, despite suspicions raised by a number of criminal investigation experts.
Tang was charged with illegal weapon and drug transactions in 2006, but fled to the mainland in August that year, shortly after being released on bail.
In December that year, Tang sent video recordings to some Taiwanese media outlets, saying that he had been asked by Taiwanese police to stage a show to fool the public and that the bullets that injured Chen Shui-bian and Lu were not from the guns he made.
Tang also claimed that both he and Chen Yi-hsiung were scapegoats.