Independent Chiayi City Councilor Lin Chen-hsun (林承勳) yesterday was found guilty of attempted vote buying and was sentenced to four years and six months in jail, and deprived of his civil rights for three years starting from Monday, the Supreme Court announced.
Although Lin won against Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) opponent Tsai Kuei-tzu (蔡貴絲) by one ballot in the 2010 Chiayi City Council speaker election, he was later accused of attempting to bribe City Councilor Fu Ta-wei (傅大偉) for his support in the election.
Fu had refused the overtures Lin had made to solicit his support.
According to the ruling, Lin made Fu offers through building firm owners Tai Chun-lang (戴俊郎), Lee Ching-an (李進安) and KMT Legislator Chang Min-chi (張敏琪) in October 2010. Chang allegedly alluded that Lin was willing to pay between NT$3 million (US$103,000) and NT$5 million.
Lin’s message, according to Tai and Lee, was that he was “willing to give as much as you want” and willing to match all offers made by his opponent.
Both Tai and Lee were ruled not guilty according to the Witness Protection Act (證人保護法) for volunteering information, and as the ruling has not been challenged since the second ruling, it is sustained in the final verdict in accordance with the Criminal Speedy Trial Act (刑事妥速審判法), which stipulates that appeals cannot be considered after a second ruling unless it violates the Constitution, conflicts with the Judicial Yuan’s interpretations or if it contradicts the preceding ruling.
According to the court notice, Chang Min-chi made gestures indicating “three” and “five,” an allusion of Lin’s willingness to pay NT$3 million to NT$5 million, and he was also allegedly responsible for sending a man with an envelope filled with money to Fu’s office.
Though initially judged guilty during the first trial, evidence against Chang was considered too weak to support the sentence and Chang was ruled not guilty in the final ruling.
After reviewing the case, the collegiate bench felt that the evidence provided by the plaintiff was sufficient to rule Lin guilty of attempted bribery, the announcement said, adding that final ruling upheld the decision of the first trial.
Although Lin has not commented on the ruling, friends and family visiting the Lin family said that Lin had not yet received the court ruling, but the warrant for his arrest had already been served.
Meanwhile, the Chiayi City Council said that according to the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act (公務人員選罷法) and the Local Government Act (地方制度法), whether a by-election would be held was up to the city council to decide.
As Lin had not yet served half his tenure in office, in accordance with article 74 of the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act, the position shall be filled by the next candidate with the highest number of votes.
Chang Chih-cheng (張志成), who came second in the 2010 election, would automatically succeed should the council so decide, the council said.
Additional reporting by Ting Wei-chieh and Wang Shan-yen