Thu, Jan 30, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Court turns down DPP lawmaker's request for appeal

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Supreme Court yesterday turned down DPP lawmaker David Chou's (周伯倫) request to appeal his six-year prison term in connection with a 15-year-old corruption scam.

The decision reaffirmed Taiwan High Court's verdict last August that the legislator be sentenced for his involvement in the Ronghsing Park development affair.

The scandal surfaced in 1988 when then-Taipei City councilor Chen Sheng-hung (陳勝宏) revealed that several colleagues including Chou had taken bribes from Chiaofu Construction Corp in exchange for their support of the development plan.

Chou, 47, who has since 1993 held a legislative seat representing Taipei County, was found guilty of accepting NT$16 million from the company.

The four-term legislator declined to answer questions about the latest judiciary ruling that is bound to disrupt, if not terminate, his 20-year political career.

The high court also ruled to suspend Chou's civil liberties for four years, which will not go into effect until after he serves his jail term.

Chen Chun-yuan (陳俊源), another former Taipei City councilor, was sentenced to five-years in addition to revoking his civil rights for three years and four months.

Several other councilors and city government officials took part in the influence-peddling scheme that sought unsuccessfully to turn part of the park near Sungshan Airport into a commercial-residential zone. Most of those found guilty have almost finished their terms.

The Ministry of Interior issued a statement later in the day saying it will ask the premier, with consent from the president, to revoke Chou's capacity as a lawmaker, after it receives the verdict.

"People deprived of their civil liberties are not qualified to work as government employees, a definition that extends to lawmakers," the ministry's statement said.

It will take a couple of months at the most before Chou has to report to prison authorities. The legislative immunity from prosecutions does not apply to Supreme Court convictions, according to the criminal code.

The DPP legislative caucus, while regretting Chou's removal, shied away from defending their controversial colleague.

"The development is regretful as it will reduce the party's seats in the legislature," DPP legislative whip Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said. "But we will fully respect the judicial branch on this matter."

Chou began his political career in 1982 when he worked as an assistant to Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who was a Taipei City councilor at the time. In 1985, Chou won a seat in the Taipei City Council under the banner of being one of Chen's followers.

During his stint as the DPP legislative whip during the first half of 2001, he never missed an opportunity to bash the opposition parties and stall the legislative process.

Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘), another DPP legislative leader, said he deplored the forthcoming loss of a seasoned and shrewd colleague, who joined the legislature the same year as he did.

"Politically shrewd, Chou has made a great contribution to the DPP over the years," Ker said. "His absence will significantly dent the ruling party's combat readiness."

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