The Taipei District Court said yesterday that Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou's (
Presiding judge Tsai Shou-hsun (
Ma is on trial for allegedly misusing a special mayoral allowance fund during his eight years as Taipei mayor and embezzling NT$11 million (US$333,000). He has not contested that he took the special allowance for personal use.
Prosecutors have said that between December 1998 and last July, Ma wired half of his monthly special allowance -- NT$170,000 -- directly to a personal account. They also found that Ma had NT$11,176,227 in bank accounts belonging to himself and his wife.
The verdict is expected to have an impact on Ma's presidential election, as well as on the investigations into several prominent Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) figures who also allegedly misused their discretionary allowance funds.
Three of Ma's secretaries during his time as mayor appeared as witnesses yesterday.
Ma told the court that the trio could prove that he considered his mayoral special allowance to be personal income and he had not attempted to defraud the secretaries of the funds.
All three told the court that Ma had never asked about the appropriation of his special mayoral allowance.
Meanwhile, several KMT politicians and dozens of other people rallied outside the courthouse in a show of support for Ma.
In related news, KMT lawmakers yesterday demanded that the Special Investigation Team combating high-level corruption also question DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (
Prosecutors from the Black Gold Investigation Center of the Taiwan High Court Prosecutors' Office indicted Ma on Feb. 13.
"Ma was indicted 195 days after he was reported [to have irregularities in handling the funds]. In Hsieh's case, it has been 298 days since he was reported. Hsieh, however, has not been subpoenaed," KMT caucus whip Hsu Shao-ping (
She said that it was unfair that Hsieh could tour the country on a daily basis to canvass votes while Ma had to appear in court.
"Judicial reviews in a democracy should be based on the principle of fairness. Now that both men are presidential candidates and their cases are related to their handling of mayoral special allowance funds, prosecutors should tend to Hsieh's case," Hsu said.
DPP caucus whip Wang Tuoh (
The KMT changed party regulations banning indicted members from running for office and now it was seeking to influence the judiciary so Ma could stay in the presidential race, Wang said.
He said the DPP was unable to manipulate the judiciary, as shown by the recent decision to give the president's son-in-law Chao Chien-ming (