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Train derailment probe takes unexpected twist

Train derailment probe takes unexpected twist

The probe into the death of a Vietnamese woman who passed away after the train she was on derailed took a new twist yesterday as local media claimed prosecutors had, with the aid of a confidential witness, located tools that may have been used by the suspects to damage the rails.Kaohsiung prosecutors declined to comment on the reports, but stressed that they would administer lie-detection tests to witnesses if necessary.
While acknowledging that evidence was still being verified and could not be revealed, Chung Chung-hsiao of the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors Office did say that prosecutors "will not refrain from conducting polygraph tests to check the veracity of suspects' testimony."
Chung was responding to a front-page story in a mass-circulation Chinese-language newspaper yesterday that stated a "confidential witness" claimed that the main suspects in the case - the women's deceased husband Lee Shuang-chuan, (李雙全) who later committed suicide, and her brother-in-law Lee Tai-an (李泰安) - had asked the witness to be their accomplice in damaging the train track.
The witness further led investigators to a slope near the site of the derailment, and dug out a set of construction tools, including wrenches, iron hammers and pieces of wood, according to the report.
The story went on to say that the tools have been sent to the Central Investigation Bureau for further verification. If results show that Lee had used the tools, then they could serve as immediate evidence to charge Lee of causing the train derailment.
Though the Kaohsiung prosecution declined to confirm the details in the story, local media got hold of several hardware store owners in Taitung County's Jhihben Township, Lee Tai-an's hometown, who told reporters they were visited by investigators one week ago asking if Lee or his deceased brother bought hammers, shears or any equipment that could be used to damage rails.
The media has followed the case intensively, in part because its resolution could also help solve a series of train derailments in southern Taiwan that have occurred since October 2004.
The accident related to the case occurred on March 17, when an express train traveling westbound from Taitung to Kaohsiung derailed. The next day, the Vietnamese woman, who was with her husband on the train, was confirmed dead.
Originally thinking the woman had died from injuries sustained in the crash, prosecutors later found she was poisoned with a "rare substance," which had been administered before she boarded the train.