Sat, Nov 03, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Court accepts Ma's request to replace witness transcripts

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

A Taiwan High Court judge yesterday approved a request by lawyers of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to replace a prosecutor's transcript of a witness' statement with that of Ma's attorney in the corruption case against the former Taipei mayor.

Ma was found not guilty of corruption by the Taipei District Court in his first trial in August, but prosecutors have appealed the verdict with the Taiwan High Court.

At the court hearing yesterday, Ma's attorney, Song Yao-ming (宋耀明), told the court that the transcript of Prosecutor Hou Kuan-jen's (侯寬仁) questioning of Chuang Mei-chen (莊美珍), an accountant with the Taipei City Government's Secretariat, was not credible and asked the court to examine Hou's transcript.

time-consuming

Prosecutors said that examining the transcript in court would be time-consuming and asked that the court rule to replace Hou's transcript with that by Ma's lawyer.

The presiding judge accepted the proposal.

Yesterday was not the first time that Ma's lawyers had questioned Hou's transcript of witnesses' statements.

During Ma's first trial, the Taipei District Court ruled that the transcript of Hou's questioning of Taipei City treasurer Wu Li-ju (吳麗洳) was "not credible."

The court said there were serious discrepancies between an audio recording of the testimony and Hou's transcript.

Furthermore, the court said Hou had asked hypothetical questions and the testimony did not have the authority of evidence. Although Hou recorded answers of "yes" and "uh" to his questions as affirmative responses, this was not necessarily the case, the court said.

out of context

The judges said Hou had taken statements out of context, and that they had never before seen such discrepancies in evidence.

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

Prosecutors said that between December 1998 and July last year, Ma wired half of his monthly special allowance, or NT$170,000, directly into a personal account. In this way, they said Ma accumulated NT$11,176,227 in accounts belonging to himself and his wife.

During the trials Ma admitted he had taken half of his monthly special allowance for personal use, but said he believed that government officials' special allowances should be treated as income, not as public funds.

The Taiwan High Court said yesterday it expects Ma's second trial to wrap up by the end of this month and a verdict would be announced next month.

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