Thu, Jun 29, 2000 - Page 1 News List

Former politician to go to jail

CRIME CRACKDOWN The former Chiayi County speaker was convicted of abusing his position to secure a loan and for trying to influence a farmer's association election

By Irene Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former Chiayi County Council Speaker Hsiao Teng-piao (蕭登標) was found guilty yesterday by Chiayi district court of two of the more lenient of the six charges that the prosecution had brought against him. He was sentenced to two years and four months in prison.

However, both the defendant's family and the prosecutor were dissatisfied with the court decision.

Hsiao himself did not appear to hear the court decision yesterday, but his niece, Hsiao Yan-yu (蕭苑瑜), a legislator, was there and she told the Taipei Times later by phone that the Hsiao family will definitely file an appeal against the conviction.

The prosecutor is thinking of appealing against the acquittal -- especially on the counts of blackmail and illegal confinement. The grassroots political heavyweight became a wanted suspect on these charges in December 1996 following the Chihping anti-gangster program (治平專案), a large-scale crackdown on organized crime.

After more than two years on the run, Hsiao finally turned himself in to the Chiayi Prosecutors' Office last September, claiming that he was a victim of a political ploy conspired by former Minister of Justice Liao Cheng-hao (廖正豪) and saying that he hoped for a fair trial as Liao had stepped down in 1998. Since then, Hsiao has been detained and his several requests for bail have been overruled in court.

The prosecution originally brought six charges against Hsiao after over three months of investigation, during which testimony from more than 150 witnesses was recorded.

The six charges included blackmail, illegal confinement, three counts of using his position to secure loans exceeding his credit limit from farmer's associations, and using bribery to influence the outcome of an election of managers to a farmer's association.

In the district court decision yesterday, Hsiao was sentenced to two years and four months in prison for one of the loans he took from a farmer's association in Chiayi County and for his interference in elections for another farmer's association.

Moreover, the court again overruled Hsiao's request for bail yesterday on the same grounds as in its previous rulings -- that the defendant had absconded before.

Lin Kuen-chih (林坤志), a trial judge on the three-member panel, said Hsiao was acquitted of the charge of blackmail because of a lack of evidence. He also said the court acquitted Hsiao of illegal confinement -- he is accused of detaining people from farmer's associations to prevent them from voting -- as the prosecution's and its own findings differ on the year in which they accuse Hsiao of committing the offence.

Hsiao Yan-yu said their family was very upset with the court's decision not to grant Hsiao bail, and she suggested supporters of the former council speaker might carry out protests following the decision yesterday.

"While those who have been sentenced to life [in prison] are granted bail, how come my uncle, who was only sentenced to two years and four months, still has to be detained?" Hsiao Yan-yu said.

"Many of my uncle's supporters had wanted to stage protests against the court, and we tried to calm them down and told them to wait until the court rendered its verdict. But if they want to take any action now, we won't try to stop them."

Hsiao, who served as a Chiayi County councilor and then as speaker, was the first scalp taken during the Chihping crackdown.

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