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Wed, Jul 26, 2000 - Page 4 News List

Hsinchu mayor convicted of libel, again

By Irene Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Hsinchu County Magistrate Lin Kuang-hua (林光華) was convicted under election laws by the Taiwan High Court yesterday for publication of defamatory statements against his opponent during the 1997 local election campaign.

The court sentenced the magistrate to six months imprisonment and deprived him of his civil rights for one year. The court, however, has ordered the sentence suspended for five years.

Lin, running on a DPP ticket, and Cheng Yung-chin (鄭永金), a KMT candidate, waged a fierce campaign for the county's 1997 election for magistrate.

During the election, Lin published defamatory statements against Cheng, accusing him of having acquired illicit interest from sales of real estate, the court found.

In his campaign flyers, Lin accused Cheng, former Hsinchu county council speaker, of having accumulated his fortune by engaging in speculative real estate sales in the county.

The court said Lin, without any proof, had maliciously published the defamatory statements in order to influence voters.

The court also found Lin had defamed Cheng in his campaign posters, which referred to the KMT candidate as a "speculator ... dishonest" and "shameless."

The court found Lin intended to use the statements to lower Cheng's reputation and sway voters' opinion.

Lin, who was convicted of defamation in October 1998 for the same defamatory statements against Cheng, said yesterday he was dissatisfied with the high court decision and will likely file an appeal soon.

The court said it decided to sentence Lin to six-months imprisonment, because the magistrate's acts violated the law and stained the image of the democratic system.

However, the court ordered the sentence to be suspended for five years, during which time Lin will not actually be imprisoned unless he commits another offense.

"It is contemptible the defendant used illicit campaign tactics. Nevertheless, he committed the offense with the intention of winning the election so that he could contribute to society and serve the public.

"Following the conviction, he should learn a lesson and not repeat his offense," the court said.

Lin was first found guilty of the charges in January last year and received a six month prison sentence.

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