The Taiwan High Court yesterday agreed with a lower court in finding two former officials not guilty of defrauding the government of US$500,000 of secret diplomatic funds used to promote diplomatic relations.
The court maintained that former National Security Council secretary-general Chiou I-jen (邱義仁) and former deputy minister of foreign affairs Michael Kau (高英茂) did not pocket the funds.
On hearing the verdict, Chiou’s lawyer, Kao Yung-cheng (高涌誠), said his client had been vindicated by acquittals in two trials.
The process also showed that “there could be malfeasance on the part of Special Investigation Division [SID] of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office,” the lawyer said.
Kao said Chiou was detained for 50 days while the case was investigated and if he was ultimately found not guilty, he would seek national compensation for wrongful detention.
The prosecutors can still appeal the High Court’s verdict if they feel it did not properly apply the law.
In their indictment, SID prosecutors alleged that irregularities occurred in relation to a diplomatic initiative launched in 2004 by the then-Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration, dubbed “An Ya.”
The initiative, taken after Taiwan joined the WTO, hoped to enlist the support of then-WTO secretary-general Supachai Panitchpakdi in blocking China from forcing Taiwan to adopt any designation at the WTO that would imply a downgrading of its sovereign status, they said.
The prosecutors said Chiou instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to allocate US$500,000 to the project, but that he then kept the money for himself.
Kau was indicted on similar charges for directing the ministry to issue traveler’s checks for the same amount.
In the two former officials’ first trial, Taipei District Court judges found that the initiative was a collaboration between the National Security Council and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was not decided by Chiou alone.
According to the testimony of witnesses, the traveler’s checks were cashed and signed by the representatives of the intended beneficiary and not Chiou, a statement with which the district court agreed.
The High Court upheld the district court’s findings, but it did not offer any public explanation yesterday to back its ruling.