The Taiwan High Court yesterday upheld a guilty verdict against former Tainan City Council speaker Lee Chuan-chiao (李全教) on vote-buying charges.
It sentenced him to a reduced term of three years and six months in prison, and deprived him of his civic rights for five years.
The ruling can be appealed.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) politician had hoped a lower court ruling from April last year that stripped him of his council speaker position would be overturned.
In yesterday’s ruling, the High Court found Lee guilty of buying votes during the council speaker election in December 2014 in violation of the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act (公職人員選舉罷免法).
An investigation found that Lee, through intermediaries, offered up to NT$10 million (US$324,928 at the current exchange rate) per vote to seven city councilors in exchange for their support in the election.
Lee decried the High Court’s ruling as “political persecution” as he led a group of supporters in a demonstration outside the court.
Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德) said: “Lee’s vote-buying case had a big impact on Tainan. It led to changes in election laws and paved the way for registered balloting in council speaker elections. Thus we have opened up to let the sun shine on to the political process. The reform of ‘black gold’ politics has been completed. We will let the judiciary deal with vote-buying cases.”
Lee had previously been convicted of vote buying in a separate case. The High Court in August last year found him guilty of vote buying during the campaign for the Tainan city council election in November 2014.