Sat, Jul 02, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Lee dismisses corruption charges

PAN-GREEN:Tsai Ing-wen said the timing of the former president’s indictment was ‘suspicious,’ while reaffirming the collaboration between the DPP and Lee’s TSU

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Former president Lee Teng-hui, right, toasts Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen, left, yesterday during a fundraising dinner for the Taiwan Solidarity Union.

Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times

Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) yesterday said he was innocent and dismissed the corruption charges against him as groundless.

In a speech made one day after being indicted on charges of embezzling state funds, the 88-year-old said he did not want to go into details of the case as they “simply came out of the prosecutors’ own heads,” adding that as an old man, “I don’t fear death, let alone these oppression tactics.”

Lee, the nation’s first democratically elected president, is the second former president to be charged with corruption and money laundering after Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was found guilty by the Supreme Court last year.

The Supreme Prosecutors’ Office Special Investigation Panel (SIP) on Thursday accused Lee and a top aide of illegally siphoning US$7.8 million from secret diplomatic funds used by the National Security Bureau (NSB) and laundering the money during his terms in office from 1988 to 2000.

If convicted, Lee could face at least 10 years in prison, although prosecutors have indicated that they may ask for more a lenient sentence because of his age.

Lee looked unfazed last night when he spoke at a fundraising dinner for the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), a political party he founded in 2001.

Lee told the audience that when he served as president, the only thing he thought about was the interests of the country and the people, adding that he had always been able to separate his private assets and public assets during his tenure.

Lee said that he was determined to defend his innocence and would not be beaten easily.

“If there is no justice in this world, there is God,” Lee said.

In his speech, Lee took a swipe at President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), accusing Ma of incompetence and saying his administration’s China-leaning policy was the reason behind Taiwan’s loss of international competitiveness and the increasing wealth gap.

“There is no other way to change the country unless this leader is replaced,” Lee said, reiterating his slogan to “vote against Ma to protect Taiwan.”

Speaking at the same occasion after Lee, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson and presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said the timing of Lee’s indictment was “suspicious.”

Judicial cases “should not be used as tools to serve political interests or for election purposes,” she said.

Given Taiwan’s unique past and circumstances, Tsai said that the legal basis of many “secret funds” and “underground programs” should be re-examined by the government and that it should never be “selective” in handling judicial cases.

Tsai reaffirmed the collaboration between the DPP and the TSU in the upcoming presidential and legislative elections in January, adding that history showed that whenever the two parties chose not to collaborate, the election results were less than desirable.

Earlier yesterday, TSU Chairman Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝), noting Lee’s indictment came 15 days after Prosecutor-General Huang Shyh-ming’s (黃世銘) return from a seven-day visit to China, alleged that it was made under Beijing’s instructions.

Huang Kun-huei said it was a Chinese attempt to weaken Lee’s influence ahead of the elections and to malign pro-localized Taiwanese politicians with the label of corruption.

Meanwhile, former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was quoted by his office as saying that Lee’s indictment was a “dirty electioneering trick” with Tsai as the target.

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