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Taiwan’s Most-Wanted Man Gives Up

November 19, 1997 GMT

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) _ Ending a 24-hour hostage standoff, a man sought in a killing spree that riveted Taiwan surrendered to police Wednesday after freeing a South African diplomat’s family.

Chen Chin-hsing released Anne Alexander, the wife of South African defense attache E.G.M. Alexander, and was whisked away in a police motorcade to an unidentified location.

Mrs. Alexander walked into an ambulance, apparently unhurt, and was taken to a reunion with her husband and children, who were released earlier.

Police had hunted Chen for six months for his alleged role in the kidnapping and murder of a popular entertainer’s teen-age daughter in April and the murder of a plastic surgeon and two nurses.

The killings triggered an outpouring of public anger over rising violent crime in Taiwan and the government’s seeming inability to control it. More than 13,000 murders, rapes and other violent crimes were reported among Taiwan’s population of 21 million last year, double the figure a decade ago.

Chen surrendered after police promised to reopen the case against his wife Chang Su-chen and brother-in-law Chang Chih hui, who were convicted of being accomplices in the slayings and sentenced to 12 years and life in prison respectively.

Chen’s surrender ended a hostage drama that began about 8 p.m. Tuesday when he followed Alexander from a nearby convenience store to the diplomat’s home in a walled compound in northern Taipei and took his family hostage.

Police tried to break into the home Tuesday night to rescue the hostages, and Alexander and his 22-year-old daughter, Melanie, were injured in the crossfire. Chen allowed police to bring the two to a hospital, where officials said they were in stable condition.

Two more hostages _ Alexander’s 7-month-old Taiwanese foster child and his 12-year-old daughter, Christine _ were released Wednesday afternoon after officials promised to reinvestigate the roles of Chen’s wife, brother-in-law and two friends who were also convicted in the case.

Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui expressed ``great pleasure″ over Chen’s arrest. ``We are very pleased that all hostages were returned safely. We intend to see that this case is handled appropriately, and ... justice is upheld,″ Lee said.

While in the Alexander home, Chen spent several hours on the telephone with Taiwanese television stations, calmly admitting to a string of grisly crimes.

He acknowledged taking part in the April kidnapping of Pai Hsiao-yen, the 17-year-old daughter of television entertainer Pai Ping-ping, but he denied killing the girl.

Chen also admitted to breaking into homes around Taipei and raping several women, as well as helping to kill the doctor and two nurses.

But he insisted his relatives played no role in the violence and said he would release the hostages only if promised that they would be released. He said he would then kill himself.

Another suspect, Kao Tien-min, killed himself Monday after being trapped by police in an apartment in northern Taipei.

A third suspect, Lin Chun-sheng, apparently committed suicide after a shootout with police in Taipei in August.