Navy officer casts doubt on Chinese man's dinghy story
Taipei, May 3 (CNA) A Taiwanese naval officer is skeptical that a Chinese national who illegally entered Taiwan this past weekend made his way across the Taiwan Strait in a dinghy, as the man claimed, because of the limited amount of fuel it can carry.
Speaking at a legislative hearing Monday, Navy Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Chiang Cheng-kuo (蔣正國) cast doubt on the story the Chinese man, surnamed Zhou (周), gave after he was found in Taichung Harbor after arriving from Fujian province late on the night of April 30.
According to police, the man said he had sailed across the Taiwan Strait from Fujian on China's west coast on a rubber dinghy fitted with an outboard motor and carrying 90 liters of fuel.
He told police he set out for Taiwan that morning to seek "freedom and democracy" and that he was not a fugitive with a criminal record, police said.
Chiang doubted that Zhou could have made it directly across the Strait because of fuel limitations, but said the vessel may have traveled undetected for most of the voyage because it would not have been picked up by the Navy's land-based or vessel-mounted radar.
Closer to the coast, however, the Coast Guard radar could easily pick up such small boats, Chiang said.
According to the Taichung District Prosecutors Office, Zhou is being held in a detention center and is being quarantined for 14 days, after which he will face possible charges for violating the Immigration Act.
Prosecutors said an investigation has been launched to determine the truth of his story and confirm the man's identity.
Under Taiwanese law, the maximum penalty for illegal entry into the country is three years in prison and/or a fine of NT$90,000 (US$3,227).
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