Fri, Aug 11, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Taipei councilor must pay for bogus funeral-food claims

CNA , TAIPEI

The Taipei District Court ruled yesterday that People First Party Taipei City Councilor Mike Wang (王育誠) and his assistants should pay NT$3.25 million (US$99,200) in compensation to 46 food vendors affected by his claim that some of them used funeral offerings to prepare food for sale.

According to the verdict, Wang's use of false video images to back up his claim violated acceptable standards of behavior, and his dishonesty was not protected by the immunity enjoyed by city councilors.

Wang released film images in June last year that he said supported his claim that workers at city-run funeral parlors were reselling funeral offerings as food ingredients to restaurants and food vendors in the Roosevelt Road and Nongan Street areas.

The footage portrayed some men in black T-shirts and jeans collecting food offerings from the mortuaries and taking them to restaurants.

Wang's claim triggered a public scare and reportedly affected the business of many restaurants and food vendors in the area.

However, it was later discovered that the men in the film were actors. Wang admitted that the images were "simulated" and had been staged by his assistants.

The food vendors filed suit at the Taipei District Court demanding NT$6.64 million in compensation, including NT$4.6 million for non-material losses.

Chen Yong-hu (陳永護), the head of Songjiang Borough where many of the affected shops were located, launched a campaign on June 10 to collect signatures and demand that Wang pay compensation.

Asked for a response yesterday, Wang said he would respect the court's ruling.

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