Taiwanese gets life for election rally shooting

TAIPEI - Taiwan's supreme court ruled Thursday that a man who opened fire at an election rally, killing one person and injuring a politician's son, must serve a life sentence.

The top court confirmed a decision last year by the high court, which convicted Lin Cheng-wei, 48, of attempted murder and illegal possession of firearms and sentenced him to life.

The high court had increased a 24-year sentence passed by a district court.

Lin, who had a criminal record, was arrested at the scene after opening fire at a campaign rally of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) party in November 2010 near Taipei.

Lin claimed he had intended to shoot a KMT candidate with whom he had a personal dispute, but that he accidentally shot Sean Lien - son of former vice-president Lien Chan - in the face while he was on the stage.

Lien denied Lin's claim, insisting he himself was the target.

A man in the crowd was hit by the same bullet and died on the spot, only hours before voters went to the polls in local elections.

Lien was rushed to hospital for emergency surgery and released after ten days of treatment.

The incident revived painful memories of another election-eve shooting in 2004, when then-president Chen Shui-bian and his deputy Annette Lu were shot while campaigning for re-election.

Critics alleged that the 2004 shooting was staged to win sympathy for Chen, who eventually won by a razor-thin margin in a disputed election that plunged the island into political turmoil for months.

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