Sun, May 18, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Former school principals found guilty of corruption

Staff writer, with CNA

More than 30 former public elementary-school principals in New Taipei City were on Friday found guilty of taking bribes from school lunch suppliers.

According to a statement from the New Taipei District Court, 32 of the 36 former principals involved in the case were found guilty of graft.

Some of the defendants had been removed from their posts following the indictment, while others were already retired.

Among the 32 principals who were found guilty, eight received suspended sentences and will be given fines because they confessed to the graft charges and returned the bribe money.

One of the defendants was found guilty of leaking secrets and allegedly providing information to a school lunch supplier to help it win the contract.

Eleven other defendants admitted taking bribe money and returned it, but denied the connection between the money and the catering companies winning the contracts.

They were sentenced to 20 months and six years in prison.

Another 12 defendants denied the charges and were given a prison terms ranging from seven years and four months, to 10 years and six months.

One of the 12 defendants who faced the heaviest sentence, Yeh Chen-yi (葉振翼), was given eight years and 10 months in prison.

He said he will appeal the court’s decision, adding that there was not enough evidence to support the ruling.

Chen Mu-cheng (陳木城), a retired principal who set up an online forum on the case, said the court ruling was the biggest disaster in the history of the nation’s education system.

Chen said he believed the claim made by some of the former principals that the funds they took were donated by catering companies to support their schools’ finances.

The court did point out in its decision that two of the four principals were found not guilty because of a lack of evidence.

The two had used funds donated by cater companies to sponsor school sport teams, the court said.

Secondary and Elementary School Principals Association director-general Hsueh Chun-kuang (薛春光) said the judges should decide each case by checking whether the money received was used for school affairs.

Prosecutors conducted a series of searches that began in October 2011, and a total of 78 people, including school officials, people involved in the bidding process, and catering company owners and employees, were indicted.

The New Taipei City Education Bureau said school principals and officials found guilty will remain suspended, pending a decision from the Judicial Yuan’s Public Functionary Disciplinary Sanction Commission on what disciplinary action should be taken.

The four principals found to be innocent will be able to return to their teaching jobs, the bureau added.

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