Wed, Aug 01, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Ma defends his actions in final day of corruption trial

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chinese Nationalist Party presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou is cheered on by supporters as he enters the Taipei District Court yesterday for the final hearing of his corruption trial. Ma was charged with embezzling money from his special mayoral allowance during his two terms as Taipei mayor.

PHOTO: CNA

Former Taipei mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) proclaimed his innocence yesterday during the final hearing of his corruption trial, despite admitting that he had taken public funds for personal use.

After the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate had his say, presiding Judge Tsai Shou-hsun (蔡守訓) said the hearings were over and that the verdict would be handed down by the middle of this month.

Ma was indicted on Feb. 13 on corruption charges for embezzling NT$11 million (US$333,000) from his special mayoral allowance during his eight years in office.

DEFENSE

Ma said prosecutor Hou Kuan-jen (侯寬仁) -- who had indicted him -- had misinterpreted what he had said during their interview when Hou said that Ma knew that the special allowance fund must be used for public expenditures.

Ma said he believed that government officials' special allowances should be treated as a "substantial subsidy" -- as income -- and not as public funds.

Ma said he had considered the special allowance funds as part of his government income since he became a government official in 1988.

Prosecutor Hou Shao-ching (侯少卿) asked Ma: "Do you consider the special allowance fund a personal fund that you could use for anything, or a public fund that you must use for public expenditures?"

DONATIONS

"The special allowances are personal funds and I could use them on anything, but I actually made a number of donations to charities which amounted to more than the special allowance I received," Ma replied.

Ma said he had not "pocketed" any of the money from the special funds.

Hou offered the court several documents, including press statements and Taipei City Government meeting records, as evidence that Ma knew that the special allowance funds were public funds.

ACCUSATIONS

Prosecutors have said that between December 1998 and July last year, Ma wired half of his monthly special Allowance -- NT$170,000 -- directly into a personal account. They said Ma had accumulated NT$11,176,227 in accounts belonging to him and his wife.

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