Former navy captain Kuo Li-heng (郭力恆), a key figure in the procurement of six Lafayette-class frigates from France in 1991, was released earlier this month after serving a near 20-year prison term.
Kuo had been serving a life sentence since 1994 on separate charges of taking bribes and disclosing classified information related to a minesweeper procurement deal and the Lafayette procurement deal.
Kuo, now in his early 70s, is benefiting from a clause in the Criminal Code that limits a prison term to a maximum of 20 years, which granted him a partial commutation of his sentence.
Following an amendment to the Code of Court Martial Procedure (軍事審判法) in August, which transferred the jurisdiction of all military criminal cases to the civilian judicial system during peacetime, the Ministry of Justice told a press conference yesterday that Kuo’s case was transferred to the civil judicial system in August and he was at that time moved to Taipei Prison.
Prior to his transfer to Taipei Prison, Kuo requested parole three times, but each was rejected by the military judicial system, the ministry said.
The ministry said that after Kuo was transferred to Taipei Prison, he applied to the Taiwan High Court to have his life sentence commuted, arguing that he reported to the military judicial system on his own initiative when the bribery case broke — a condition for an application for commutation of a sentence.
The ministry said the Taiwan High Court granted Kuo’s commutation request and that since he had completed 20 years in prison, the ministry released him on Dec. 3.
In May, the Taiwan High Court sentenced Kuo to 15 years in prison and deprived him of his civil rights for 10 years on corruption charges relating to the procurement of the Lafayette-class frigates. The verdict has been appealed to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court said yesterday that even if Kuo is found guilty in the corruption case he would not need to serve another term, as he has already served 20 years in prison — the maximum term under the Criminal Code.
In May’s ruling, Kuo, a former official in the navy’s weapons procurement office, was convicted of accepting US$17 million in kickbacks from arms dealer Andrew Wang (汪傳浦) to facilitate the deal.
The ruling said Wang and Kuo received a total of US$340 million from the deal.
The Special Investigation Division of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office said yesterday it had sent an English-language version of the Taiwan High Court’s ruling to Switzerland seeking legal mutual assistance to return the US$340 million held there to Taiwan.
Taiwanese prosecutors have concluded that as much as US$700 million in bribes may have been paid throughout the course of the Lafayette and Mirage jets procurement deals.
Wang was a Taiwanese agent for French arms supplier Thompson-CSF. He fled Taiwan 10 days after the death of navy captain Yin Ching-feng (尹清楓), whose body was found by local fishermen on Dec. 10, 1993, in waters off the east coast town of Suao (蘇澳), Yilan County.
Prosecutors believe that Yin was poised to blow the whistle on his colleagues who had received kickbacks from the Lafayette deal.
Wang is accused of murdering Yin and has been wanted by Taiwanese prosecutors since September 2000.
Additional reporting by CNA
EFFICIENCY: The rules for Philippine arrivals were revised after 17.6% of arrivals with symptoms tested positive, compared with 0.7% of those with no symptoms Starting today, Chinese spouses who hold a reunion permit can apply to enter Taiwan and travelers without symptoms from the Philippines do not need to be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival, but are to be tested after a 14-day quarantine, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that from today, Chinese who are married to a Taiwanese citizen and hold a reunion permit can apply to the National Immigration Agency for entry into Taiwan. Chinese who are married to a foreign national and hold an accompanied reunion permit
PENGHU INSPECTION: Taiwan cannot let its enemies strut around in its airspace, Tsai said, one day after a Chinese spokesman denied a median line exists in the Taiwan Strait Following China’s assertion on Monday that there is no “median line” in the Taiwan Strait, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday pledged to defend the nation’s airspace during a visit to an air force base in Penghu, saying that Taiwan cannot allow others to flex their military muscle in its territorial airspace. Tsai praised the “heroic performance” of the pilots of the Indigenous Defense Fighters who have been intercepting Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force planes in recent days. “I have a lot of confidence in you. As soldiers of the Republic of China [ROC], how could we let enemies strut
CONSOLIDATION? Taiwan Thinktank deputy executive-general Doong Sy-chi said Beijing’s intimidation tactics are further alienating those who identify as Chinese Only 2 percent of respondents to a poll on constitutional amendments and national identity identified as Chinese, while 62.6 percent identified as Taiwanese, the Taiwan Thinktank said yesterday. Legislators have proposed amendments to the Additional Articles of the Constitution (憲法增修條文), which would change the definition of the nation’s territory, remove the Taiwan Provincial Government as an entity, prioritize the use of “Taiwan” for national groups at international events, and remove restrictions on defining the national emblem, national flag and national anthem. The poll showed that 80.5 percent of respondents agreed that the nation should participate as “Taiwan” at events organized by world
MISTAKE: The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy is not a UN body, and the government is committed to protecting the nation’s name, Joseph Wu said The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday condemned the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy for listing Taiwanese cities as belonging to China on its Web site, and asked that it correct the error. The organization was inaugurated in Brussels in 2016 as a global coalition of mayors committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Six Taiwanese cities at the time joined the coalition as cities in “Taiwan,” the ministry said. However, officials from the Kaohsiung City Government — one of the organization’s members — last week noticed that the city was now listed on the organization’s Web site as a