Wed, Aug 22, 2007 - Page 4 News List

Kaohsiung poll appeal trial opens

ELECTION RIVALRIES Mayor Chen Chu wants the Taiwan High Court to overturn a June ruling that last December's mayoral poll must be restaged

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Supporters of Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu brave the rain to stand in front of the Kaohsiung branch of the Taiwan High Court yesterday as the first hearing was held on her appeal of the Kaoshiung District Court's ruling voiding last December's mayoral election.

PHOTO: CHANG CHUNG-YI, TAIPEI TIMES

The first hearing in the appeal against the Kaohsiung District Court's decision to annul the result of last December's Kaohsiung mayoral election was held yesterday.

The district court ruled on June 15 in favor of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate Huang Chun-ying (黃俊英), who had accused his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) rival Chen Chu (陳菊) of violating campaign regulations and asked that her victory be annuled.

The district court decided to annul the results of the election and said the election had to be held again.

Chen appealed that verdict to the Taiwan High Court's Kaoshiung branch.

According to the Election and Recall Law (公職人員選舉罷免法), the high court must hand down the verdict before Dec. 15. By law, there can be no appeal of the second trial's verdict.

Huang's lawyer Ho Hsu-ling (何旭苓) told the court yesterday that Chen had used illegal means to hinder her rival's campaign.

She said a press conference held by Chen camp's on the eve of the election to accuse the Huang camp of vote-buying had violated the Election and Recall Law, which stipulates that candidates must stop all campaign-related activities by 10pm on the eve of elections.

Ho said the vote-buying allegations made at the press conference had spread via TV and radio reports.

Chen's camp had also spread the news by sending text messages to voters, Ho said.

Ho said that the timing of the press conference had left Huang's camp no time to explain or clarify the issue before the election, putting Huang in an unfair position.

Chen's attorney Richard Lee (李勝琛) said the Kaoshiung District Court had found two men guilty of vote-buying or distributing "walking fees" (走路工), after two men had rented buses to transport Huang supporters to an election-eve rally and paid voters NT$500 each "to vote for the KMT Kaohsiung City councilor candidate."

Lee said that staff from Chen's camp had videotaped the incident on the bus and because of this, the Chen camp had sufficient reason to suspect that Huang was involved in vote-buying and therefore felt they had to tell the public.

He said the election-eve press conference was not a campaign activity, because it revealed possible corruption -- an act he said should be protected under freedom of speech and therefore was not a violation of the Election and Recall Law.

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