Former People First Party (PFP) legislator Lin Cheng-er (林正二), who was found guilty of vote-buying earlier this month, yesterday vowed to file an extraordinary appeal or seek a retrial to clear his name in what the party called a “politically motivated ruling.”
Lin was stripped of his seat after the Supreme Court on Thursday last week upheld the ruling of a second trial that found him guilty of vote-buying during his 2007 campaign.
The charges relate to his hosting a party in November 2007 to recruit campaign staffers, for which he received a 20-month jail sentence and was deprived of his civil rights for 17 months.
Three of his assistants were sentenced to 19 months in jail and deprived of their civil rights for one year for their role in setting up the party.
“We are all Aborigines. We don’t deserve such heavy punishment for hosting a party, which cost just NT$13,800. I just feel heart-wrenched,” a teary-eyed Lin said.
Judges said in the ruling that Lin was found guilty because the expensive fare served at the party — including lobster, shark fin and crab — could have swayed the 16 invited guests.
Lin said that while he was seeking re-election at the time, but had not yet been nominated by the PFP, so the party was not a trade-off for votes.
PFP Deputy Secretary-General Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄), as well as PFP legislators Thomas Lee (李桐豪) and Chen Yi-chieh (陳怡潔), voiced their support for Lin, saying they had reason to suspect that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) had a hand in influencing the ruling.
“Lin was ruled guilty because he was not a registered KMT [member]. Lin lost his seat in 2010 after the court nullified his election in the Seventh Legislature for the same case. How come he was punished again in the Eighth Legislature when he was elected legally?” Liu asked.
Taiwan High Court judges at the second trial overruled the previous ruling, which found Lin not guilty, but did not present new evidence, Liu said.
That raises the question of whether the verdict was the result of “political manipulation,” Liu added.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬), who was at the press conference, also threw his support behind Lin, saying he knew how Lin felt.
Last month, Gao was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison for his part in a land deal scandal involving a former aide.
Gao has maintained his innocence and said he knew nothing about how his assistant handled the land deal. He has vowed to file an appeal.