Thu, May 29, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Officials on tail of libellous lawmaker

MOVED ON Former lawmaker Hsieh Chi-ta is off running a coffee-shop business in Beijing, but says she will return soon despite facing a three-month jail sentence

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Taipei District Prosecutors' Office yesterday issued a warrant for the arrest of former New Party legislator Hsieh Chi-ta (謝啟大) after she twice failed to report to the prosecutors' office to begin a three-month sentence.

"She was supposed to report to us on March 4 but she did not show up," said Chen Hung-ta (陳宏達), the spokesman for the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office. "Chief Prosecutor Weng Hung-tsai (翁宏在) summoned her again on March 21 but she again failed to report."

Hsieh was handed a three-month jail term on Dec. 12 last year following a second defamation case between former president Lee Teng-hui's (李登輝) wife Tseng Wen-hui (曾文惠) and three New Party members, Hsieh, Elmer Feng (馮滬祥) and Tai Chi (戴錡).

Feng was sentenced to four months in prison with Tai also receiving a three-month sentence. The former lawmakers were given the option of paying NT$300 a day in lieu of going to jail. Feng and Tai paid off their fine in February.

In a phone call with reporters yesterday, Hsieh, who is now running a coffee shop business in Beijing, said that she is disappointed with the verdict but will definitely come back at the end of this year.

The former legislator also served as a judge with expertise in juvenile delinquency at Ilan District Court, Hsinchu District Court and the Taiwan High Court Hualien branch.

"I'll go back to Taipei to help my fellow New Party members in next year's presidential election," she said. "As for the case, I would prefer to be jailed rather than pay the fine."

Shortly after the 2000 presidential election, Hsieh, Feng and Tai claimed that Tseng had attempted to flee to New York with US$85 million in cash stuffed into 54 suitcases, but was turned back by customs officials.

Tseng filed a libel suit and the trio also filed counterclaims with the same charge against Tseng.

At a first hearing last March year, the Taipei District Court ruled that the trio was innocent. In a further ruling that sparked controversy Judge Huang Cheng-hui (黃程暉) said that the lawmakers' counterclaim had to be dropped because there was no slander in the case.

The Taiwan High Court upheld Tseng's appeal on Dec. 12, overturned the first verdict and found the trio guilty. Presiding Judge Tsai Jiung-tuns (蔡炯墩) said the lawmakers could not appeal his decision.

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