Key figure in naval scandal-murder charged, proclaims her innocence

The China Post staff

A key witness yesterday spoke publicly for the first time about the mysterious murder of navy Captain Yin Ching-feng, but denied she was an arms broker as had been portrayed. Tu Cheng Chun-chu, who just returned to Taiwan Wednesday after a seven-year self-imposed exile in Germany since Yin’s death, also denied any connection with a military procurement official currently imprisoned.

Prosecutors said yesterday they are not planning to bar the woman, who is commonly known as Mrs Tu, from leaving the country for investigations, but asked the immigration authorities to let them know when Cheng plans to exit the country.

But Yin Hsing-wen, the murdered man’s younger sister, yesterday filed charges against Mrs Tu, claiming Mrs Tu was in a conspiracy to murder her brother.

Yin’s wife, Lee Mei-kui, yesterday said she hopes to meet with Mrs Tu so as to clear her confusion. Lee added that Mrs Tu had not told the whole truth, but declined to elaborate.

Facing reporters yesterday for the first time since returning to Taiwan secretly Wednesday, Mr Tu said she was willing to cooperate fully with authorities in their investigation into the high-profile military scandal.

The investigation has made little progress over the past seven years. She left Taiwan immediately after Captain Yin was found dead.

Mrs Tu was reportedly the broker between the suppliers of four German-made minesweepers and related parts and components and ROC Navy’s Weaponry Acquirement Program (WAP) office, of which Yin was director then.

Mrs Tu, a close friend of Yin, said yesterday the reputation she carried in media reports was wrong, but provided no solid evidence to support her claims, which included that she had no personal ties with Kuo Li-heng, the military procurement official who was Yin’s colleague but is currently serving a life sentence.

Although it is widely believed that she is not directly connected to Yin’s murder, her return is expected to help police paint a clearer picture of the murder case and related kickback scandal.

Mrs Tu said she had to come to face the press only after becoming tired of being hounded by the media. Jokingly, she said she was under much less danger this time compared with the time when she left the country hurriedly seven years ago.

Neither the kickback scandal nor the murder case has been resolved over the past seven years, despite the fact that more than 10 naval officers and private arms brokers have been questioned, indicted or jailed.

Mrs. Tu, who has been living in Germany for the past seven years, is believed to have been a close friend of Yin, whose body was found floating in Suao Harbor in eastern Taiwan in late 1993 — several days after he had been collecting evidence about alleged irregularities concerning the Navy’s procurement of four German-made minesweepers and six French-made frigates.