Fri, Jan 31, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Chou barred from leaving

STAFF WRITER

Senior DPP Legislator Chou Po-lun (周伯倫) has been barred from leaving the country after his appeal of a corruption conviction and six-year prison term were rejected, Chinese-language media reported yesterday.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused the four-term lawmaker's request for an appeal, leaving him with few options but to serve his sentence in connection with the 15-year-old Ronghsing Park development scandal.

Chou was a Taipei city councilor when he was convicted in 1989 of taking NT$16 million (US$460,000) from a construction firm. He was found guilty of accepting a bribe in exchange for dropping his opposition to the firm's plan to turn the development into a shopping mall.

In response to Wednesday's ruling, the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office informed the Bureau of Immigration yesterday morning to bar Chou from leaving the country.

Article 6-1 of the Immigration Law (入出國及移民法) bars people sentenced to prison from leaving the country before serving their sentences.

Chou issued a press release yesterday to announce that he has already resigned his lawmaker post. He also said that he will report to prison authorities on time, but he also stressed that will apply for an "extraordinary appeal" soon.

"Chou will be sent to prison after the Lunar New Year holiday," Minister of Justice Chen Ding-nan (陳定南) told reporters yesterday.

However, bureaucratic paperwork means it may take up to two months before the 47-year-old Chou has to report to prison.

In addition, the Judicial Yuan said yesterday that it will look into reasons for the unusually long 14-year period it took for the case to be resolved -- the longest involving a legislator.

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