Taiwan charges 2 in failed train, office bombings

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Two men have been charged with planting cyanide-tainted bombs on a Taiwan high-speed train and at an office where the head of global electronics powerhouse Foxconn was scheduled to visit in April. The devices failed to explode.

One suspect, a non-practicing lawyer, hired the other man to place the bombs and made stock market orders anticipating he could profit in the aftermath of the explosions, according to the Xinbei Prosecutors’ Office.

The bombs placed at a lawmaker’s office targeted Terry Gou, head of Foxconn Technology Group, a statement from the prosecutors’ office said late Thursday. Gou was scheduled to visit the lawmaker’s office that day, April 12, to attend a religious event he had sponsored.

Taiwan-based Foxconn produces parts for popular electronic devices at its extensive network of factories in mainland China, including iPads and iPhones for Apple Inc.

The lawyer, Hu Tsung-hsien, 44, and Chu Ya-dong were indicted on charges of attempted homicide and endangering public security, which could carry the death penalty or life imprisonment if they are convicted.

Prosecutors said Hu made the bombs at his home with knowledge gathered from the Internet and employed Chu to place the devices. Scores of bottles containing various chemicals were seized from Hu’s home in the southern city of Tainan, the statement said.

Hu attorney Fang Nan-shan said Hu has denied the charges. He said Hu was seeking to raise public awareness on Taiwan’s widening gap between rich and poor. Chu has acknowledged he placed the luggage but denied knowing the contents.

Each device had a timer to set off an attached gas can and release toxic cyanide into the air. Police say the bombs failed to explode because the electric current meant to ignite the gas cans was not sufficiently strong.

Prior to the bombing attempts, Hu had placed short sell orders on the local stock exchange, betting the bombings would destroy investor confidence and allow him to reap huge profits, the prosecutors’ statement said.

Prosecutors said Hu plotted the bombings after he was charged in February in a separate case of intimidating a businessman. Data seized from his computer indicated Hu had been inspired by the English freedom fighter in the 2005 action thriller “V for Vendetta,” they said.

Hu and Chu fled to southern China after the bomb attempts but were arrested and repatriated to Taiwan.

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