Sun, Nov 30, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Former lawmaker's jail term would `waste money'

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei District Prosecutors' Office Spokesman Chen Hung-ta (陳宏達) yesterday said that he would urge former New Party legislator Hsieh Chi-ta (謝啟大) to pay her fine instead of going to jail to avoid wasting public funds.

Hsieh was handed a three-month jail term on Dec. 12 last year following a 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 and Tai to three months.

The former lawmakers were given the option of paying a fine in lieu of going to jail. Feng and Tai paid off their fine in February.

"If she pays the NT$81,000, she will not have to go to jail. That is easier for her and easier for us, too," Chen said.

"Her sentence is not a long one and her conviction is not for a very serious crime. It is really not necessary to waste taxpayers' money to jail her for three months."

Hsieh, who is currently running a coffee shop in Beijing, said that she would come back to Taiwan at 3pm today and would report directly to the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office to begin her three-month prison term.

"The reason I decided to go back to Taiwan and complete my jail term is that I want to catch up with the presidential election and vote for my favorite candidate," Hsieh said in a press release.

She said she would rather go to jail than pay the fine because she felt that the verdict had not been fair, and this is her way of protesting it.

Chen said Hsieh was supposed to have reported to the prosecutors' office on March 4 to begin her sentence, but she left for Beijing. Prosecutors issued a warrant for her arrest on May 28.

"Although we hoped that she would not waste taxpayers' money, we will have to put her behind bars if she insists on being jailed," Chen said.

Hsieh and her former legislative colleagues Feng and Chi were sentenced shortly after the 2000 presidential election after claiming 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.

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