Tue, Jan 18, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Chang could get life for bribes

CORRUPTION After handing down indictments in the Linnei incinerator construction scandal, prosecutors said they want the maximum punishment for the key suspect

By Chiu Yu-tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Prosecutors yesterday handed down indictments in an incinerator construction scandal in Yunlin County, recommending that former county commissioner Chang Jung-wei (張榮味) be sentenced to life imprisonment and the deprivation of some civil rights for the rest of his life.

According to prosecutors investigating the scandal, former county Environmental Protection Bureau director Yen Jia-hsien (顏嘉賢) and former Linnei Township mayor Chen Ho-shan (陳河山) were also recommended sentences of 15-year imprisonment and the deprivation of their civil rights for 10 years.

The courts have yet to decide whether the defendants will receive bail.

The investigation into the incinerator scandal began in June last year, when prosecutors received a tip-off from an anonymous informant who claimed that Yunlin government officials -- including Chang -- had accepted a substantial bribe during the tendering process for construction of the incinerator in Linnei Township.

In July, Chen admitted that he had accepted a total of NT$18 million in bribes from contractors attempting to ensure they received the contract.

On Aug. 13, prosecutors and special agents raided Chang's office and residence as part of the investigation, and his whereabouts were unknown until Dec. 10, the eve of legislative elections.

Chang was arrested by the side of the road in Touliu, Yunlin County, and his capture is thought to have boosted support for his sister, Chang Li-shan (張麗善), who was elected the next day as an independent candidate for the legislature, according to political analysts.

Yunlin County Councilor Yin Lin-in (尹伶瑛), who was elected last month as a legislator for the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), said yesterday that she regards the indictment as a step toward justice for Yunlin County residents.

"The planned incinerator is obviously a waste. Chang processed the project without considering social welfare at all," Yin told the Taipei Times.

According to the contract, the cost of treating each tonne of household waste at the incinerator will be about NT$2,555, which is higher than comparable incinerators, which usually cost less than NT$ 2,000 for the treatment.

In addition, Yin's investigation suggests that construction companies gave inflated figures about the cost of the proposed project, which would have a daily capacity of 510 tonnes.

The cost was inflated for four times the original price of NT$120 million, to NT$ 500 million, Yin said.

Yin stressed yesterday that the case was just the tip of the iceberg, because the Environmental Protection Administration's (EPA) waste management procedures have not been seriously reviewed.

"Do we really need so many incinerators?" Yin asked.

"If we don't have this one in Linnei, household waste can be still managed appropriately by other incinerators in nearby counties," Yin said.

EPA officials have been cautious about commenting on the scandal, saying that the agency was only one of the financial sources for incinerator construction at the local level.

But Yin said that the EPA should havetaken a more active approach to supervising local environmental protection bureaus, and she vowed to address the matter in the next session of the Legislative Yaun, to force the agency to revise its waste management policy.

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