Intelligence agencies likely involved in Lin family murder: report

02/17/2020 09:03 PM
Lin Yi-hsiung (林義雄, center)
Lin Yi-hsiung (林義雄, center)

Taipei, Feb. 17 (CNA) Taiwan's intelligence apparatus was likely involved in the shocking triple homicide of a democracy activist's family members 40 years ago, but the destruction of key evidence has made it hard to draw firm conclusions, a new report has found.

The report, released by the Transitional Justice Commission (TJC), summarized the TJC's findings from its investigation of the murder of Lin Yi-hsiung's (林義雄) mother and twin daughters at Lin's residence on Feb. 28, 1980 in a case that has never been solved.

The report is based on a review of related historical files related to the case that were declassified due to the passage of the Political Archives Act in July 2019.

It is widely believed that the authoritarian Kuomintang regime of the time was responsible for the act, which took place while Lin was detained for his opposition to the government, but the report did not reach any specific conclusions on the perpetrator.

Instead, the TJC presented new details leading it to conclude that the intelligence apparatus that existed in 1980 played a role in the case, even if an indirect one.

The report, citing the declassified files, revealed that Lin's residence had been under close surveillance through informants and wiretapping for as long as a year prior to the murders.

It would have been impossible under such circumstances for ordinary people to enter Lin's ground-floor apartment and commit the crime, the report said, casting suspicion on the authorities at the time.

In addition, the team investigating the case found that a person suspected of being the murderer made a call from Lin's residence to a restaurant asking for a person named "Wang Chun-feng (王春風) or Wang Chun-fa (王春發)."

A restaurant worker put the caller on hold, and when that worker picked up the phone again to say there was nobody of that name, the caller had already hung up.

TJC member Yu Po-hsiang (尤伯祥) said an intelligence unit had a recording of the key phone call, but that recording was allegedly destroyed, according to a declassified National Security Bureau (NSB) document.

Yu said the TJC could only speculate why related authorities decided to destroy the piece of important evidence that could shed some light on the killings.

One possibility is that the intelligence apparatus, which neither Yu nor the report identified more precisely, was the mastermind behind the triple homicide, Yu said.

Another possibility is that the intelligence agency decided to destroy the evidence after learning of the murder through its surveillance for fear that the investigation could ultimately link government authorities to the killings, he said.

Either way, the intelligence apparatus under the then authoritarian KMT government likely played a role in the murder, Yu said.

TJC spokeswoman Yeh Hung-lin (葉虹靈), meanwhile, urged the NSB, which has been responsible for preserving all of the files related to Lin's case, to explain why related authorities decided to destroy that piece of key evidence in the first place.

Yeh also called on the NSB to make more confidential files available to facilitate the investigation.

Despite the passage of Political Archives Act that helped make available thousands of confidential files to the TJC, Yeh said the NSB insisted that some of files still could not be made available until 2030, 50 years after the murder.

In denying access to those files, the NSB cited Article 8, Section 2 of the Political Archives Act, which prohibits access to certain files that once disclosed, would "seriously affect national security or foreign relations," according to Yeh.

On February 28, 1980, an unknown person broke into Lin's home and stabbed his mother and three daughters. Only one daughter survived the attack. Lin's residence was later turned into the Gikong Presbyterian Church.

The TJC, formed in May 2018, has been tasked with uncovering the history of political repression during Taiwan's martial law period, which lasted from 1949 to 1987.

Lin's case is one of two unresolved cases that have been listed as priorities by the TJC since its founding.

The other is the death of Carnegie Mellon University associate professor Chen Wen-chen (陳文成) in 1981 one day after he was questioned by the Taiwan Garrison Command, a secret police body that existed during the martial law period.

(By Matt Yu, Wang Yang-yu and Joseph Yeh) enditem/ls

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