Sun, Nov 03, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Paroled politician Hsiao says he was framed

BLACK-GOLD MAN?The former speaker of the Chiayi County Council was released on parole yesterday after being sentenced for abusing his office. Fe insists he was framed

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The question of whether former Chiayi County Council speaker Hsiao Teng-piao (蕭登標) will resume his political career became relevant again last Monday when he was released on parole. At that point he declined to give any comment about whether he would stay in politics.

"I guess I'll think about it later," Hsiao told reporters when he walked out of jail.

The 53-year-old former speaker was convicted of abusing his position and sentenced to two years and 10 months in jail.

The court found him guilty of abusing the public's trust in January 2000 when he used his position to gain loans above his credit limit from farmers' associations.

He spent most of 2000 in jail before being released on bail of NT$2.5 million in December that year to await the verdict of an appeal to the Supreme Court because the judges approved prosecutors' request to detain him during the investigation into the allegations.

On Oct. 18 last year, the Supreme Court rejected his appeal and ruled that he must report to the Chiayi Prosecutors' Office to begin his jail term on Dec. 27.

But he never showed up and became a fugitive from justice.

He was arrested again on Jan. 16 this year, when he was visiting a candidate for the Chiayi City councilors election, and detained at Yunlin Second Prison (雲林第二監獄), where he officially began his jail time.

Other than for the 2000 conviction, the grassroots political heavyweight also went on the run in 1997 after being blacklisted by the Chihping Anti-Gangster Program (治平專案) -- a large-scale crackdown on organized crime -- for alleged connections with local gangs.

"There were a bunch of legal loopholes in the crackdown. Some people were arrested without proof of their crimes being furnished and some were convicted without a fair trial. Is this the kind of thing that takes place in a country governed by the rule of law?" Hsiao asked.

He said he decided to turn himself in to the prosecutors' office on Sept. 17, 1999, because, "It wouldn't be difficult to find out whether I'm a gangster or not."

He was then detained for a week until the case was dropped for lack of evidence.

But he was arrested again less than a week later and charged with breaching the public's trust and held until his conviction.

Prior to his arrest on Jan. 16, Hsiao was planning to represent Chiayi in the legislature as an independent, but he was immediately disqualified from running by the Central Election Commission after the Supreme Court upheld his conviction.

Apart from the conviction, Hsiao was also charged with robbery, false imprisonment, extortion, blackmail, illegal possession of weapons and public order violations from 1995 to 1998. All the charges were later dropped for lack of evidence.

Hsiao portrays himself as a victim of politics. He says the only thing he has been convicted of so far was also the work of his political enemies.

According to him, prosecutors decided to indict him only two days after they began to investigate his case and it was difficult to believe that these law enforcement officers were not influenced by political factors when they were working on his case.

"I'm quite used to this actually. My political enemies always tried to cut me down in any way," Hsiao said. "I have been waiting and waiting for the day when justice would finally be served but I have been disappointed again and again."

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