Tue, Jun 07, 2005 - Page 2 News List

No string-pulling in former councilor's release, MOJ says

DONE TIME A former DPP Taipei City councilor who was convicted of graft was released from prison four years early, prompting claims of political influence

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of Justice yesterday granted former Taipei City Councilor and Democratic Progressive Party member David Chou (周伯倫) parole amid criticism of political interference in the decision.

Chou was convicted for accepting NT$16 million in bribe money from Chiaofu Construction Corp -- the backer of the Ronghsing Park development project -- when he was a Taipei City councilor in 1988.

In 2003 Chou was sentenced to six years in prison -- some 15 years after the crime was committed. He was remanded to Hualien Prison on Feb. 17 of that year.

"Chou has actively joined in prison activities, and he has behaved well in the prison, so the ministry decided to grant his application for parole," said Vice Minister of Justice Tang Jinn-chuan (湯金全) yesterday, in an attempt to rebuke criticism.

According to the Election and Recall Law of Civil Servants (公職人員選罷法), Chou will be unable to work as a civil servant of run for office ever again, Tang added.

Chou filed his first application for parole before the end of last year, but the ministry's Department of Corrections declined his request.

Department director Huang Cheng-nan (黃徵男) said at the time Chou "needed more rehabilitation" because his prison records showed he had broken many rules, including hiding NT$50,000 in cash in his cell and smoking and chewing betel nuts at unauthorized times, since he began his jail term at the Hualien Prison.

However, Chou filed his second application for parole in February, which was approved by the ministry yesterday.

Chinese-language newspaper reports yesterday speculated that the ministry released Chou amid political pressure, noting that other prisoners would not be released under similar conditions.

The ministry yesterday released a press statement saying Chou has served a longer prison term than one of his co-defendants, Chen Chun-yuan (陳俊源), who has been already been paroled. Chou was released under normal procedure, and political influence was not a factor, the ministry insisted.

The statement, in addition, said Chou has committed no other crimes since the Ronghsing Park development scandal, and the ministry regarded Chou as unlikely to commit a such a crime again. He was released after serving just over two years of his six-year sentence.

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