NEWS > Taiwan/HK
Taiwan's airport police chief replaced after violence
2005-04-27 02:32:59 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Pro-independence protesters throw eggs at supporters of opposition Nationalist Party Chairman Lien Chan at Chiang Kai-shek International Airport in Taoyuan, April 26, 2005. (Photo/Reuters)

TAIPEI, Apr 27 (AP) -- The head of Taiwan's airport police was fired Wednesday for allegedly mishandling security at Taipei's international terminal during violent demonstrations against the opposition leader's trip to China.

Aviation Police Bureau chief Chen Jui-tien was replaced after politicians said his forces on Tuesday had failed to control hundreds of unruly demonstrators who traded blows, set off firecrackers and threw crates of eggs as Nationalist leader Lien Chan prepared to leave on his controversial trip.

Hundreds of opponents and supporters of Lien battled at the airport Tuesday. More than a dozen were injured, though none of them seriously.

"(The police) didn't arrest any suspect at the scene ..., this is a grave dereliction of duty, so (Chen) is not qualified to hold this function," Premier Frank Hsieh said at a Cabinet meeting Wednesday morning where the decision was made to fire the airport police chief.

Hsieh said he hoped the police could avoid violence when Lien returned to the island on May 3.

Lien's trip has inflamed passions because his opponents view him as a traitor that will sell out Taiwan's interests to China, which has threatened to use force if Taipei moves toward formal independence. Both sides split at the end of a civil war in 1949, but China still claims the self-ruled, democratic island as its territory.

Critics say Lien shouldn't visit China, but his supporters say he is only trying to improve relations.

The ruling Democratic Progressive Party said it was investigating one of its lawmakers, Wang Shih-chien, for making a speech to the crowd that might amount to incitement to violence -- a charge Wang denies.

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