Wed, Jun 25, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Court rules in favor of Frank Hsieh in defamation case

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Taipei District Court yesterday ruled in favor of former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) in a defamation case brought by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) after Hsieh alleged that Ma had embezzled money from his special allowance while serving as Taipei mayor.

“The court found Hsieh innocent of slander because Hsieh’s comments were actually taken from Ma’s indictment in the special allowance case,” the verdict read.

Ma is entitled to appeal the ruling to the Taiwan High Court.

ALLOWANCE

The case was brought after Hsieh — who at the time was Ma’s rival for the presidency — said in an interview with SET-TV on Sept. 24 last year that Ma had received reimbursements for his special allowance fund by using fake receipts during his mayorship between 1998 and 2006 and had used the allowance to pay personal expenses.

Ma immediately demanded that Hsieh apologize for his remarks.

Rather than apologize, however, Hsieh repeated the accusations on Sept. 28 in another TV interview.

Ma then filed the slander suit against Hsieh.

VERDICT

The court said in its verdict that Hsieh had admitted to the judges that he had made the comments, but argued that his comments came from the indictment in Ma’s special allowance case.

Hsieh told the judges that he had not fabricated any information and that it was not his intention to slander Ma.

REACTIONS

The Presidential Office declined to comment on the ruling yesterday, saying only it would wait until it had received a written verdict.

Democratic Progressive Party spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) said that Hsieh’s criticism of Ma was warranted and legal because it was based on the indictment.

In addition, the matter was relevant to the public interest, Cheng said.

Additional reporting by Ko Shu-ling

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