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Wed, Jul 04, 2001 - Page 3 News List

High Court upholds libel claim in election dispute

By Irene Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Taiwan High Court denied an appeal by independent legislator Liao Hsueh-kuang (廖學廣) yesterday, upholding a district court decision ordering Liao and his wife to pay NT$4 million in compensation for a 1998 electoral dispute.

In handing down its decision on the civil dispute, the High Court ruled Liao and his wife Chou Li-mei (周麗美), elected mayor of Hsichih township in Taipei County, were liable for engineering a smear campaign against DPP Legislator Chou Ya-shu (周雅淑) in the 1998 election for Hsichih mayor.

Throwing out Liao's appeal against a decision by the Taipei District Court, the High Court determined Liao and his wife must pay NT$4 million in compensation to the DPP legislator, who ran for the Hsichih mayorship against Liao's wife in the 1998 election.

The High Court ruling yesterday has added to the couple's recent woes, who have been plagued by press reports that the two are estranged as a result of Liao's wife having an extramarital affair.

The court found that in the campaign the couple widely distributed electoral flyers, which referred to Chou Ya-shu as "Liar Chou" and suggested that her fund-raising banquet had been sponsored by improper sources.

Chou, following her defeat in the 1998 election, filed the suit requesting NT$80 million in damages from the couple.

However, the court decided that the case did not merit the requested amount and subsequently only awarded NT$4 million in compensation.

The High Court affirmed the district court's decision yesterday.

Liao, former mayor of Hsichih township, has invited significant controversy for creating a so-called "mayor tax" as a new revenue for the township.

The tax was intended to pay for infrastructure improvements in the township.

Although he was indicted on charges of profiteering, Liao's supporters contend collection of the mayor tax was in the best interest of township residents.

His case is still pending in court.

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