The murder trial of two Taiwan gangsters accused of killing Chinese-American journalist Henry Liu in California will be held before a three-judge panel on April 2, the Taipei District Court announced Friday.
Earlier this week the two defendants, Chen Chi-li, reputed leader of United Bamboo, Taiwan's most powerful criminal gang, and Wu Tun, another Bamboo gang member, appeared at the preliminary hearing portion of the trial.
Chen and Wu are charged in the Oct. 15 killing of Liu, a critic of the Taiwan government who was shot to death in the garage of his home in Daly City, a suburb of San Francisco. Both men are being tried in their native Taiwan, where they returned after the crime, because the island nation has no extradition treaty with the United States.
Orders to Kill Cited
At their preliminary hearing last Wednesday, Chen and Wu said they were ordered to kill Liu by Vice Adm. Wang Hsi-ling, former chief of military intelligence in Taiwan. They said Wang told them Liu had betrayed his country with his writings and that he was an agent of Taiwan who was acting as a double agent for China.
Wang and two of his subordinates in military intelligence, Chen Hu-men and Hu Yi-min, have been stripped of their duties and placed in custody while under investigation in the Liu killing.
Also on Friday, a leading Taipei newspaper reported that Chen Hu-men has admitted to investigators that he provided a photograph of Liu and the journalist's address to Chen Chi-li before the murder.
Not Asked to Kill
The United Daily News, published by a high official in the ruling Kuomintang Party, said it had learned that Chen Hu-men had "admitted that before Chen Chi-li left Taiwan, he gave him relevant materials including Henry Liu's picture and address," but that "he told investigators that he definitely did not ask Chen Chi-li to kill anyone."
The article also quoted Wang as having told military investigators that he never asked Chen Chi-li to kill Liu, nor did Chen tell him about the killing after he returned from the United States.
Wang acknowledged, however, that he, Chen Chi-li and Hu Yi-min, the third intelligence official in military custody, were together with others when a discussion began about Henry Liu's activities in the United States, including his publication of a critical biography of Taiwan President Chiang Ching-kuo, the paper said.
Wang related that someone commented that after going to the United States, Liu had "turned around and criticized the government" and "should be taught a lesson," the paper said. Chen Chi-li also said Liu should be taught a lesson, and Wang said he casually echoed agreement, the paper said.
It was after this conversation that Chen Chi-li received training from the intelligence bureau, the paper said.