Fri, Jan 15, 2016 - Page 3 News List

More than 70 detained in two days of raids over alleged election violations

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

More than 70 people were detained over the past two days in two operations into alleged vote-buying activities in Taitung and Hualien counties, officials said.

Some of the suspects allegedly paid up to NT$5,000 per voter in mountain areas and Aboriginal electorate districts, they said.

Two days of raids were finalized yesterday as police finished collecting evidence, while prosecutors summoned about 30 people for questioning either as suspects or witnesses, officials said.

Among the suspects were campaign personnel working for the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) legislative candidate in Taitung, Chen Chien-ko (陳建閣), officials added.

Chen denied his staff were involved in vote-buying, saying that the accusations are a smear tactic employed by his opponent Hung Tsung-kai (洪宗楷), while Hung called a media conference accusing Chen of election violations.

The raids were the largest judicial operation into alleged election violations in the past few years, officials said, adding that more than 100 judicial personnel, investigators and police officers were involved.

Heavily-armed mobile military police and fast-response strike units also took part in the operation, as they raided a number of mountain villages, remote Aboriginal communities and covered long stretches of the eastern coastline, officials said.

The operation was led on two fronts, the Taitung District Prosecutors’ Office said, adding that a detachment of law enforcement personnel followed the mountain route into Haiduan, Yenping (延平) and Daren (達仁) townships, and crossed into Hualien County’s Aboriginal townships, heading north through the Taitung-Hualien Longitudinal Valley (花東縱谷), while a second unit followed the coastal road and proceeded into Chenggong Township (成功鎮) and Taitung City, and used boats to reach the Ludao Island (綠島).

Most of the towns and villages that were raided belong to Aboriginal Paiwan, Bunun, and Puyuma communities, as alleged vote-buying activities involved a number of Aborigine legislator candidates in the mountain and coastal districts, the office said.

The questioning of the suspects and witnesses were still under way as of last night, office chief prosecutor Hsu Hung-ju (徐弘儒) said.

“We have received numerous reports of vote-buying and other violations, as well as reports of legislative candidates paying cash to voters for their ballots,” Hsu said, adding that the operation was launched after several days of surveillance and monitoring.

Among the 70 people questioned were four former or current township chiefs, former county councilors and incumbent village wardens.

Two people were held incommunicado, including Huang Shan-ping (黃山平), an independent candidate for the by-election to fill a county councilor seat for Taitung’s Haiduan Township (海端), he said.

The by-election is to fill the seat that was vacated after a court removed the previously-elected Haiduan Township councilor Chang Shun-cheng (張順成) from office on charges of vote-buying in November last year, handing out a 40-month prison term.

Huang had previously worked as a county office assistant for KMT Legislator Kung Wen-chi (孔文吉) and had held various posts in the local government’s township offices. He allegedly paid NT$5,000 to each voter, with one person admitting during questioning yesterday to taking money from him, officials said.

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