Friends and associates of Chen Chi-li said Chen first became acquainted with the Chiang family through business contacts in the late 1970s, and became friendly with Chiang Hsiao-wu in 1982. Chen Chi-li and Chiang Hsiao-wu met privately at Taipei spas and in Chiang's office, according to one of Chen's close aides who claims to have arranged the meetings. The aide said the men were careful to screen their relationship from public view.
First Phone Call
In fact, on the night Chen was arrested, the first person this associate telephoned for help was Chiang Hsiao-wu. The call, however, was never put through to Chiang, the aide said.
Chiang Hsiao-wu, in his first public comments to an American newspaper on the Liu murder, denied any role in the intelligence network and any relationship with Chen.
"For a decade now I have always worked in the field of mass communications," he said in a telex from Taipei. "I have never worked nor held any office in any government institution in charge of national security affairs. And I have had no relationship whatsoever with Chen Chi-li. In fact, I have never met Chen nor did I have any knowledge of him until I read newspaper reports about him recently."
Lt. Reese said that when he questioned Chen in Taiwan, he asked the gang leader about the possible involvement of top political figures in the murder.
"I asked him if he believed there was anyone higher than the military intelligence officer who ordered this act," Reese recalled. "He only said that 'I'm sure when all is said and done, and we've been through all the trials and hearings, the full truth will be known.' "
In the United States, Liu's slaying has prompted calls on Capitol Hill to reevaluate U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, estimated at $800 million a year. It also has left many of Liu's friends and members of a burgeoning Taiwan dissident community in this country uneasy.
"After he was killed, some of us either resorted to wearing bullet-proof vests or carrying guns," said one Taiwan expatriate in San Francisco. "Others cancelled trips they had planned to Taiwan and other Asian countries. Our lives have changed because of this. We now live in fear."
Also contributing to this story was Times staff writer David Holley