Kidnapping suspect shot dead by police in Kaohsiung

Taipei-A suspect in the January kidnapping of a Chiayi businessman was shot and killed in Kaohsiung Tuesday after he allegedly pulled a gun on police who had surrounded his car as they moved in to arrest him, the authorities said that day.

The 57-year-old man, surnamed Li (?), is alleged to have led a gang of six suspects in the Jan. 24 kidnapping of the businessman, surnamed Ko (?), outside a hotel in Chiayi City, said Chiayi City Police Chief Huang Chien-jung (???).

According to Huang, Li approached Ko as he was leaving the hotel at 3:30 a.m., forced him into a car at gunpoint and demanded that he arrange a NT$3 million (US$107,657) ransom payment before releasing him at 5:10 a.m. near the Chiayi Motor Vehicle Office.

Chiayi police then launched a joint investigation with the Criminal Investigation Bureau and the Chiayi District Prosecutors Office, which tracked Li for several weeks before attempting to arrest him in Kaohsiung.

According to Huang, officers surrounded Li in his car at around 9 a.m. in the city's Gushan District. Upon seeing them approach, Li allegedly brandished a gun, prompting the officers to fire 19 rounds into the vehicle before moving in to apprehend him.

Li, who suffered as yet unspecified number of bullet wounds, died later in hospital.

The police defended their use of force, noting that Li had a long list of prior convictions for offenses involving drugs, robbery and firearms possession, and had been sentenced to prison terms of over 15 years and 8.5 years in Kaohsiung for two separate drug trafficking cases that are currently under appeal.

Based on their investigation, police believe Li learned of Ko and his family's wealth from an acquaintance of his in prison and decided to kidnap him after experiencing financial troubles following his release.

The suspects are thought to have monitored Ko's movements prior to the kidnapping by secretly attaching a GPS device to his car and by renting a residential property near his home, police said.

Aside from Li, the police have arrested four other suspects in the case, while one remains at large. They also recovered an unconfirmed sum from bank accounts, safety deposit boxes and apartments belonging to the suspects, which are believed to have come from the ransom payment.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel