Thu, Feb 16, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Reveal vote-buying or face prosecution, local councilors told

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The prosecutor-general yesterday asked members of local councils who are offered bribes to vote for particular candidates in the elections on March 1 to immediately report this to prosecutors to avoid criminal prosecution.

"The nation's witness protection laws stipulate that criminal suspects who offer information to law-enforcement personnel are eligible for reduced punishment or exemption from criminal charges," Prosecutor-General Wu Ying-chao (吳英昭) said yesterday as he asked prosecutors in Hualian and Taitung to encourage local councilors to report instances of vote-buying.

Prosecutors nationwide have been busy this week to prevent and investigate cases of vote-buying ahead of the elections of city and county council speakers and deputy speakers, which are notorious for vote-buying.

"According to last year's amendments to the Criminal Code, vote-buying in speakership and deputy speakership elections are punishable by three to 10 years in prison, as well as a maximum fine of NT$20 million (US$617,600)," the head of the Taichung District Prosecutors' Office, Chiang Hui-ming (江惠民), told Taichung City and County councilors at a tea party yesterday.

Minister of Justice Morley Shih (施茂林) said on Tuesday that amounts ranging from NT$1 million to NT$5 million were being offered for votes in the coming elections.

In some cities or counties, one council member's vote is worth NT$1 million to NT$1.5 million, while for "critical votes" the price could rise to between NT$8 million and NT$10 million, he said.

One of the nation's most notorious vote-buying scandals is the 2004 Kaohsiung City Council speakership election. Former Kaohsiung City Council speaker Chu An-hsiung (朱安雄) and a large number of council members were found guilty of vote-buying, which led to a re-election of the city councilors.

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