The widow of a Chinese-American journalist shot to death outside his garage filed a $245-million lawsuit against Taiwan on Friday, alleging that that nation conspired to murder the writer to quiet his increasingly critical voice.
The lawsuit filed in federal court said the "violent terrorist acts" that led to Henry Liu's slaying on Oct. 15, 1984, were arranged by Taiwanese government officials "acting within the scope of their office and employment" on behalf of the island nation.
The suit, filed by Helen Liu, names three Taiwanese military officials and three crime syndicate members in the crime.
Five of the six already have been convicted and sentenced in Taiwanese courts. Vice Adm. Wong Hsi-ling, who suggested the killing, is serving a life sentence, and Maj. Gen. Hu Yi-min and Col. Chen Hu-men are each serving 2 1/2-year terms for complicity. Wong is the highest military official ever to be court-martialed in Taiwan.
Chen Chi-Li, reputed "godfather" of the Bamboo Union and mastermind of the Liu killing, and gang member Wu Tun are also serving life terms. Gang member Tung Kuei-sen remains at large.
The suit claims that the trials were "carefully orchestrated proceedings," in which Taiwan "purported to confine responsibility and exonerate itself."
Attorneys for Helen Liu declined to comment on the suit, saying it speaks for itself.
Henry Liu, 52, was born in China and fled to Taiwan in 1949, after the Chinese civil war. He remained on Taiwan until 1967, working as a journalist and historian, before emigrating to the United States and becoming a citizen.
In the United States, Liu worked as a correspondent for a number of Chinese-language publications. In 1975, he published "The Biography of C. K. Chiang," a study of Taiwanese President Chiang Ching-kuo, son and successor of Chiang Kai-shek.
The biography, which became a Chinese-language best-seller and also was published in Japan, was based on essays Liu wrote about the Taiwanese leader, including some that were critical. A revised edition had just been published, when Liu was killed, and had again become a Chinese-language best-seller.
A month before his death, Liu traveled to China to arrange for publication there.
"In the years after his emigration to the United States, Mr. Liu's writings had become increasingly critical of the undemocratic, one-family rule of the Republic of China," the lawsuit notes. "Beginning as early as 1973, Mr. Liu had been the target of threats from officials of the Republic of China, who warned him, in ominous tones, to avoid criticism of C. K. Chiang in his writings."