Tue, Jan 28, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Yu says arrest of former lawmaker a top priority

ANTI-GRAFT The premier sees Wu Tzer-yuan as a `black-gold' politician and is keen to track him down so he can face a string of corruption charges against him

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Premier Yu Shyi-kun yesterday reiterated at the Cabinet's year-end press conference comments made earlier this month by the minister of justice that the arrest of former independent lawmaker Wu Tzer-yuan (伍澤元) is a top priority for law enforcement this year.

"Wu is regarded as a `black-gold' politician and it is our goal to get rid of all black-gold political activities this year," Yu said.

"In addition, we also hope that the courts can close more cases involving corruption, scandals and bribery. We need to get Wu back to Taiwan and wrap this case up as quickly as possible," he said.

Wu's appeal against a string of corruption and fraud convictions is pending at the Taiwan High Court.

Minister of Justice Chen Ding-nan (陳定南), stated at a press conference last Wednesday that the State Prosecutors' Office had established a special task force to track Wu down and arrest him.

The task force will lead the efforts, working with different law-enforcement agencies, including prosecutors' offices, the ministry's Bureau of Investigation and the police, to detain Wu.

"The thorny problem that we have now is that, according to our investigation, Wu is in China. That does increase the difficulties of catching him," Chen said. "But we are trying all means to get him back, including working with Chinese law-enforcement officers."

The Panchiao District Court convicted Wu on a raft of corruption and fraud charges in 1996 for his involvement, as a KMT member and director of the Taiwan Provincial Government's Planning and Development Department, in the 1992 Sipiantou (四汴頭) scandal involving a project to build a water pumping station in Taipei County.

Wu was allowed to remain free pending appeal.

In 1997, however, the Taiwan High Court upheld a request from prosecutors that he be detained.

In May 1998, Wu was released on bail of NT$3.6 million for medical reasons and barred from traveling abroad. Seven months later, however, he was elected to the Legislative Yuan as an independent legislator for Pingtung County, thereby acquiring the judicial immunity enjoyed by legislators during legislative sessions.

He won re-election on Dec. 1, 2001, and shortly afterward was named leader of a legislative delegation for a trip to Japan. The court granted him temporary permission to leave the country for that purpose.

On Dec. 29, 2001, the date of the delegation's departure, he took advantage of the opportunity to flee, leaving Taiwan.

His legislative office announced a month later that he had flown to Bangkok. The Ministry of Justice's Bureau of Investigation later said that Wu had been spotted by its special agents in Guangzhou, China.

On Nov. 19 last year, the Taiwan High Court declared Wu a wanted man after he failed to answer a summons in connection with his appeal.

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