Wed, Oct 01, 2003 - Page 4 News List

High Court exonerates 17 in huge bribery case

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Taiwan High Court yesterday upheld its previous verdict stating that Chou Jen-sen (周人蔘), a billionaire who owned a large network of video-gambling parlors, must spend eight years and six months in jail for bribery, while 17 others were found innocent.

There were 31 defendants, among whom were police and prosecutors, making it the nation's largest-ever bribery case.

All of them were charged with bribery but 17 of them were found innocent in yesterday's verdict.

Former Panchiao prosecutor Hung Chia-yi (洪家儀), former Chiayi City Police Department director Cheng Wen-tien (程文典), former Taipei City Police Department chief inspector Chen Yen-min (陳衍敏) were among those exonerated.

However, former Aviation Police Bureau deputy commissioner Lian Hsi-ming (練錫銘) was sentenced to seven years in jail because he accepted an NT$830,000 bribe from Chou, which the high court will confiscate.

As for former Taipei prosecutor Hsu Liang-chien (許良虔), judges ruled that he did not accept bribe money, but he was still sentenced to 16 months in jail on the charge of leaking classified information as a government employee.

The verdict states that he helped Chou make sure his illegal business was safe by feeding them advance information about police raids.

Three of Chou's employees received lighter sentences: Lian Yu-chin (連玉琴) was sentenced to three years in jail; Chang Hsiu-chen (張秀真) was sentenced to five years in jail and Yang Chun-ju (楊春日) was sentenced to 14 months in jail.

"The judges concluded that these people are innocent primarily because the evidence presented against them was quite weak," said Taiwan High Court Spokesman Tsai Kuo-tsai (蔡國在).

As of press time yesterday, none of the defendants had said whether she or he would appeal.

Yesterday's verdict came after the Supreme Court ordered the court to hear the case for a third time following an appeal by Chou of his June 2001 conviction.

For operating his huge illegal gambling ring, Chou was sentenced to two years in jail and a fine of NT$900 million in October 1997. He has already served that sentence and paid the fine.

Chou ran a network of casinos in northern Taiwan from 1988 to 1996.

Officers discovered that Chou had bribed a number of police officers in exchange for covering up the illegal venues, allowing Chou's empire to expand.

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