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2 Taiwan Gangsters Admit Their Roles in Journalist’s Death

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Times Staff Writer

Two Taiwanese underworld figures admitted complicity in the Oct. 15 murder here of controversial journalist Henry Liu, the detective in charge of the investigation said Tuesday.

Lt. Tom Reese, who returned Monday after a weeklong trip to the island nation, said that based on interrogation of the suspects, a murder warrant will be issued in the next few days for Wu Tun, one of two the alleged gangsters in custody in Taiwan. A warrant already has been issued for the other suspect in custody, Chen Chi-li, reputed chief of the United Bamboo gang, Taiwan’s strongest underworld syndicate.

During the four-hour interrogation by Reese and two FBI agents, Wu said he helped kill Liu, Reese said. The detective would provide no other details.

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Reese also declined to comment on alleged involvement by Taiwan intelligence officials in the killing. Three intelligence officials have been held for questioning in the case, but Reese and the FBI agents were not permitted to talk to them.

Reese said high government authorities in Taiwan told him that Wu and Chen would be tried there.

But although he expressed doubts that the two men would be returned to face trial here, Reese said the warrant will be issued for Wu on the “slim chance” that Wu and Chen will be extradited.

Chen was interrogated for six hours by Reese, with the help of an FBI interpreter and polygraph operator. Chen also acknowledged his complicity in the murder, Reese said at a press conference here.

Taiwan authorities arranged to allow the interrogations and were present when they were conducted. Wu and Chen were interviewed at a military garrison outside Taipei. Both appeared to be in “excellent condition,” Reese said.

Liu, an immigrant from Taiwan, was murdered by two men who cornered him in his garage as he prepared to leave for work at one of two gift shops he owns near here.

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The crime quickly took on an international air, as investigators concluded that the killers came here from Taiwan. From the start, Liu’s family and friends speculated that Liu, who wrote for Chinese-language publications here and abroad, was assassinated because of his critical writings about the Taiwan regime.

Those claims were buttressed in recent weeks, when Taiwan authorities arrested the three military intelligence officers. Their roles, if any, remain cloudy, however.

Taiwan spokesmen maintain that although some intelligence officials may be involved, the murder was not ordered by the government of President Chiang Ching-kuo.

Reese did not speak to the intelligence officials suspected of involvement. Nor would he reveal the suspected motive for the crime. He added that the investigation will continue.

Reese acknowledged that Daly City police have a tape recording believed to have been made by Chen shortly after the murder in which he described the crime, the people involved and the reasons behind it.

Daly City police initially denied having the tape because they did not want Chen to know it had fallen into their possession until after they interviewed him, police said.

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