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Sun, Sep 05, 1999 - Page 3 News List

Fugitive councilor remains on lam

GANGSTER POLITICS The non-appearance of former politician and alleged criminal Hsiao Teng-piao at the Legislative Yuan yesterday surprised few -- except for the police lying in wait to arrest him

By Irene Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Hsiao Shu-mei, National Assemblywoman and niece of former Chiayi County Council Speaker Hsiao Teng-piao, yesterday shows reporters a photo of members of her family accompanied by former justice minister Liao Cheng-hau.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

Hsiao Teng-piao (蕭登標), a former Chiayi County Council speaker who has been on the run from police since 1996, failed to show up at the Legislative Yuan yesterday.

His non-appearance disappointed a unit of heavily-armed police awaiting his arrival.

Hsiao, who has been on the run since police targeted him during a large-scale anti-gangster crusade in 1996, faces five charges should he be arrested.

Despite having been in hiding for than two years, Hsiao has unwittingly become involved in a political war-of-words between Premier Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) and former justice minster Liao Cheng-hao (廖正豪).

Liao has hinted that the premier is closely connected to gangster forces, of which Hsiao's family is allegedly included.

Hsiao, through his niece Hsiao Shui-li (蕭淑麗), a National Assembly member, announced on Friday night that he would show up at the Legislative Yuan yesterday to disclose some "ugly" facts about Liao.

But the presence of large numbers of police and media is believed to have kept him away.

"I'll definitely be coming out soon and report myself to prosecutors. And for the time being, I am going to make everything crystal clear and rebuke every accusation my [political] enemies have made against me," Hsiao said in a written statement yesterday.

Hsiao claimed he and Liao, both from Chiayi, were once good friends and had regularly frequented hostess bars during Liao's tenure in the Executive Yuan.

Hsiao alleged that Liao had targeted him in the anti-gangster crackdown as a political ploy against his family. Liao said his family dominated local politics in Chiayi and stood in the way of the political ambitions of Liao's family members.

At the time of the crackdown, which significantly improved Liao's reputation as justice minister, claims were made that suspects were often arrested and jailed without going through the proper legal system.

Speaking on behalf of Hsiao, lawyer Chen Chun-cheng (陳春成) said yesterday that Hsiao is willing to clear his name through the proper legal channels.

Hsiao is insisting on his right to due process and a fair trial, Chen said.

"If he had been sent to Green Island [maximum security prison], he wouldn't have had any chance to defend his case. It's never been his intent to stay in hiding. All he hopes for is that he can be guaranteed due process," Chen said.

Hsiao, who served as a Chiayi County councilor and then as a speaker, was the first major scalp of the 1996 crackdown.

But despite having an arrest warrant out on him, Hsiao managed to evade capture under immunity laws which prevent elected councilors from being arrested as long as their assemblies are in session.

Hsiao has frequently made public appearances since his indictment and has strongly denied the charges made against him. The charges range from blackmail and fraud to gambling.

In February 1998, on the eve of the vote for speakership of the Chiayi County Council, Hsiao abruptly announced he was withdrawing his candidacy. He has not been seen in public since.

Over the last few days, Liao has vehemently attacked Premier Siew over the KMT's selection of him as running mate for Lien Chan (連戰).

Premier Siew dismissed Liao from the position of justice minister last year, following a spate of scandals against Liao's subordinates.

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