Wed, Nov 24, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Fifty indicted in bribery probe

ALLEGATIONS Candidates of the three campaigns involved yesterday maintained their innocence after prosecutors took legal action over events like free buffet dinners

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Three legislative candidates whose campaigns have been the target of bribery investigations yesterday insisted on their innocence, after 50 people -- including one of the candidates, 48 vote-captains, and one township representative -- were indicted by prosecutors on Monday night.

The three campaigns involved are those of independent candidate and former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) member Ho Chin-sung (何金松), who is seeking re-election in Chiayi; the DPP's Lin Kuo-hua (林國華), who is seeking re-election in Yunlin; and the Taiwan Solidarity Union's Chen Chiang-sun (陳江順), who is campaigning in Taoyuan County.

Ho was indicted on bribery charges on Monday night, along with 33 of his vote-captains and Minhsiung Township Resident Representative Ho-Tsung-chi (何聰祺). Ho is the first legislator to be indicted on bribery charges during this year's legislative campaign.

At a press conference at the Minhsiung Township Office yesterday, Ho said the charge was unfair and criticized prosecutors for indicting him so quickly after only a three-day investigation.

"I can't believe that they have gone through all the details and decided to indict me within three days," Ho said. "It is obvious that somebody wants to defame me."

According to Chiayi Prosecutor Wang Chuan-cheng's (王全成) indictment, Ho allegedly treated 40 voters in his constituency to a free buffet dinner that cost the campaign NT$30,000, during their trip to Taipei City on Oct. 27. Ho Tsung-chi also attended the dinner to seek support from those present.

Wang suggested a two-year sentence for both Ho Chin-sung and Ho Tsung-chi.

Wang also indicted 33 of Ho Chin-sung's vote-captains but did not suggest sentences.

As for the DPP's Lin, the Yunlin prosecutor did not indict him, but did indict 15 of his vote-captains and suggested eight-month sentences for each. Lin's vote-captains allegedly organized a free dinner party for nearly 250 people in Hsilo Township -- Lin's constituency -- and asked these participants to support Lin to win his re-election.

According to video footage which was presented by prosecutors as evidence, Lin attended the dinner party as well. But prosecutors decided that he did not join his vote-captains' campaign activity during the dinner.

Lin said that he was only a guest at the dinner party and that the vote-captains held the party for him as a token of appreciation for his helping them apply for compensation from the Ministry of National Defense on land issues.

"I was considering whether I should go, but I eventually decided to join them because I have nothing to fear," Lin said. "I did not do anything illegal."

The TSU's Chen was not indicted either, but three of his vote-captains were detained by Taoyuan Prosecutor Liao Chiang-hsien (廖江憲), in a case that is still under investigation.

Vote-captains Lin Chin-hsing (林金興), Chen Chuan-tsu (陳傳族) and Wang Ming-teh (王明德) were detained because they allegedly bought votes for Chen by giving away free packages of rice, tea, coffee and wine to Chen's constituents.

"We spent nearly a month carrying out surveillance against Chen's vote-captains and supporters and discovered that these voters would pick up their free giveaways at Chen's campaign headquarters," Liao said.

Chen said that he would respect the prosecutors' investigation, but claimed that it is impossible for him to buy votes.

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