Sun, Jan 19, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Speaker Chu admits to paying bribes

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Kaohsiung District Prosecutors' Office yesterday said that the newly-elected Kaohsiung City Council Speaker Chu An-hsiung (朱安雄) has admitted that he bought votes from "some of the council's 44 councilors."

In an even more unexpected development in the case, prosecutors added that KMT Councilor Tsai Ching-yuan (蔡慶源), a rival candidate for speaker until his sudden withdrawal two days before the poll, has admitted not only that he accepted a bribe from Chu and then helped Chu to bribe other councilors, but that he originally planned to buy votes for himself for NT$5 million each.

"He [Chu] named some of the councilors who accepted his bribe money but the total amount he admitted to was less than we suspected. However, his testimony did match that of his wife's, Wu Der-mei's (吳德美)," said Chou Chang-chin (周章欽), the spokesman for the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors' Office, at a press conference yesterday afternoon.

Wu was released on NT$300,000 bail on Friday because her lawyer filed the bail request to the court and prosecutors also believe that she has cooperated with them and there was no longer existed any reason to detain her.

The couple were detained on Dec. 28. Chu still remains in custody.

Announcing Tsai's revelation, Chou told reporters, "He said that he was planning to buy votes at the price of NT$5 million for each vote as well, but he did not explain why he suddenly decided to quit his campaign for the speakership and began to support Chu."

Chou sought to clarify certain aspects of the investigation. "A Chinese-language news story reported that Chu has admitted that he bought votes from all the councilors we have summoned. That's not true. He didn't say that," he said.

He also denied a rumor that prosecutors made a deal with Chu to release him on bail if he agrees to step down.

"We never made that offer to him, and we never will" he said.

Chou confirmed the court granted prosecutors' request to detain Tsai, summoned by prosecutors Friday, at midnight yesterday.

Prosecutors believe that the sudden and mysterious withdrawal from the poll by Tsai, a veteran Kaohsiung City councilor about to start his his 6th term on the council, may suggest that he knows more than he has admitted.

Chou said that Tsai had admitted to receiving Chu's bribe money. Moreover, he said that he persuaded another five councilors to support Chu for the speakership and helped Chu distribute the bribe money to the five afterwards.

"Among the five, three of them are KMT and the rest are PFP. However, please forgive me if I cannot identify these councilors at this moment," Chou said.

Chou said that Kaohsiung prosecutors had summoned two more councilors, whom he could not name, yesterday morning, bringing to 29 the number of Kaohsiung City councilors to face questions regarding bribery. Of the 29, 10 have admitted to receiving NT$5 million in payoffs from Chu and have agreed to hand the money to prosecutors. Chou said that one councilor has so far failed to return the full amount, leaving a shortfall of NT$1.5 million.

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