20130531 Boat ¡¥did not ram Philippine vessel¡¦
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Boat ¡¥did not ram Philippine vessel¡¦

¡¥REVEALING¡¦: Taiwanese investigations appear to contradict Manila¡¦s initial account of the shooting, while Philippine investigators are examining bullets found on the boat

Staff writer, with CNA, Manila and Taipei

Philippine Coast Guard personnel were quoted as having told Taiwanese investigators that the Taiwanese fishing boat the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 neither rammed nor collided with their patrol vessel in the incident on May 9 during which a Taiwanese fisherman was killed.

Taiwan¡¦s questioning of three staff members of the Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and eight Philippine Coast Guard officers began on Wednesday and continued yesterday.

The Philippine officials also reportedly said the commander of their ship ordered the coast guard to open fire on the Taiwanese boat when it did not obey a warning to leave what they said was the Philippines¡¦ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The Philippine Coast Guard officers shot at the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 with machine guns and rifles, leaving 65-year-old crewman Hung Shih-cheng (¬x¥Û¦¨) dead and the boat seriously damaged.

The Taiwanese investigators said the latest round of questioning would involve speaking with the eight coast guard officers separately to clarify whether any of them violated the rules of engagement, whether they had fired warning shots and whether any of them were aware that a man had been hit by their bullets.

They added that they would try to ascertain the veracity of the men¡¦s testimonies by comparing them with the other evidence the team has collected.

The team was also expected to question the Philippine patrol boat¡¦s commander to find out if and why he ordered the attack on the unarmed fishing boat, as well as the precise location of the incident.

The team arrived in Manila at the beginning of the week and is scheduled to depart for home today.

Over the past few days, the team has boarded the Philippine vessel to inspect the guns used in the attack and obtained evidence, including images from a video recording of the incident, that Philippine Secretary of Justice Leila De Lima has described as ¡§revealing.¡¨

Meanwhile, a team of Philippine investigators are in Taiwan conducting a parallel probe into the incident. The Philippine investigators yesterday visited Taiwan¡¦s Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) to examine bullets found on the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28.

¡§We are here to conduct ballistic examination¡¨ and cross-matching of the bullets, said Daniel Daganzo, chief of the Philippine National Bureau of Investigation¡¦s Foreign Liaison Division, who is leading the eight-member team.

He made the remarks shortly after the team arrived at the CIB in Taipei.

¡§Ballistic experts from the NBI are allowed to examine the bullets¡¨ found on the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 and the bullets that killed Hung, said Hsieh Chih-ming (Á§өú), head prosecutor of the Pingtung District Prosecutors¡¦ Office, which is responsible for Taiwan¡¦s investigation.

They can also use the CIB¡¦s lab equipment, Hsieh told the media before a closed-door meeting between the Taiwanese authorities and the Philippine team to finalize the details of the examination.

The Philippine team, which arrived in Taiwan on Monday, has inspected the damaged boat in Pingtung County and, through Taiwanese prosecutors, has questioned the three survivors on the boat.

They also visited National Cheng Kung University in Greater Tainan to examine the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28¡¦s voyage data recorder.

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