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Wed, Jan 10, 2001 - Page 2 News List

Court punishes official for 921 temblor crimes

BRIBERY Found guilty of taking compensation-related bribes, a village official was handed a stiff sentence for abusing his power at a time when the nation was trying to recover from the tragedy

STAFF WRITER

Lin Hao-fong (林浩豐), a deputy executive officer of a village damaged during last year's 921 earthquake, was sentenced to 20 years in prison yesterday. His civil rights were revoked for seven years.

Lin was convicted of accepting bribes related to inspecting quake victims' qualifications for receiving compensation and aid.

Taichung County was one of the worst-hit areas during the 1999, Sept. 21 earthquake. The 7.3 Richter scale temblor claimed 2,297 lives.

Lin was a leading official in Taichung County's Fengku village (峰谷村), located in Wufeng township (霧峰鄉). Lin was appointed by the township magistrate to replace the original executive officer about half a year before the earthquake.

Such a position in the village office gave him the authority to decide who among all quake victims were qualified to receive compensatory funds from the government.

Lin, according to the written verdict, had requested bribes from six households of quake victims. He told them that they had not met the required qualifications to obtain aid and requested bribes up to NT$50,000 from each for the approvals.

A public representative of the township had disclosed the case to the police after being informed of the circumstances by a quake victim.

Lin fled after a magistrate ordered him to report to the police, following an official interview to investigate the accusation.

Lin then held a press conference claiming that he had been wrongly accused by the quake victim. He claimed that he was targeted because he refused to provide approval for the victim even when pressured by the public representative.

The court decided to punish Lin heavily because it took an especially grave view of Lin's abuse of his position at a time when the whole nation was in a state of grief.

The conviction was decided in accordance with criminal law and emergency regulations applied for tackling matters related to the earthquake.

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