Taipei, Manila start "cooperative" investigation into May 9 incident

Investigators from Taiwan and the Philippines have arrived in Manila and Taipei respectively to start individual investigations into the shooting death of a Taiwanese fisherman by the Philippine Coast Guard on May 9, officials said Monday.

The Philippine team, consisting of eight experts from the National Bureau of Investigation, arrived Monday morning in Taiwan to conduct its own investigation. The Taiwanese side, led by prosecutor Lin Yen-liang, also arrived Monday in the Philippine capital.

The development comes after a 13-member investigation team from Taiwan left the Philippines on May 18 when Manila declined to conduct a joint probe into the shooting.

According to officials, Manila has agreed to Taipei's 10 requests, including judicial assistance and examination of the coast guard vessel.

The Taiwanese investigators also received permission to participate in the interrogation of suspects, examine interview reports and voyage recording data, among other concessions.

Manila has requested Taipei to assist in 11 areas, including the examination of the fisherman's body. That request has been denied, however, due to objection by the family, Taiwanese officials said.

Taipei and Manila agreed not to label the investigations as "joint" or "parallel" to avoid misconception, as both sides vowed not to interfere with each other's probes.

After weeks of negotiations, Taiwan and the Philippines agreed Sunday to conduct a "cooperative" investigation, hoping to clarify what happened on May 9, when the Philippine coastguard shot at a Taiwanese fishing boat that Manila says was caught poaching in Philippine waters.