Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) was cleared of embezzlement charges yesterday, as the Taiwan High Court upheld a not-guilty verdict handed down by a lower court.
The Taiwan High Court said it found no evidence that Lee embezzled US$7.79 million in state funds used to conduct foreign affairs.
The Taipei District Court acquitted Lee of the charges in November last year, but the Special Investigation Division (SID) of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office appealed the ruling to the High Court.
Photo: Lo Pei-der, Taipei Times
Lee issued a statement via his office yesterday after the verdict was announced saying he felt no particular joy over the ruling, because the SID was pursuing an old case by laying charges against him without any evidence.
“Now I hope the dust has settled and the case can be closed. The judiciary has to become truly independent, so in the future no person will be wrongly persecuted,” Lee said.
“Taiwan is now a democracy. The governing authority must not manipulate the judiciary to maintain its hold on political power. It should focus its efforts on the nation’s development,” he said.
Lee’s lawyer, Wellington Koo (顧立雄), said that “in his heart,” the former president does welcome the ruling that exonerates him and clears his name.
“Otherwise, Lee would be tainted by the charges in this late stage of his life, something he cannot accept,” Koo said.
Koo criticized the SID for reopening the case, which was closed in 2006, and then appealing the lower court’s decision to the higher court.
“Now the High Court has cleared Lee of the charges, but the damage has been done. There should be a mechanism to pursue the SID’s legal responsibility in bringing these charges,” he said.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesman Huang Di-ying (黃帝穎) said that both the rulings proved that the SID had a political motive when it first filed charges against Lee six months before the 2012 presidential election.
“The SID was abusing its power, acting like nothing but a political henchman of [President] Ma [Ying-jeou, 馬英九] in persecuting the former president,” Huang said.
Legal experts said that as the courts had acquitted Lee, and the SID can only file an appeal with the Supreme Court if the second ruling were found to be in violation of the Constitution, the case is likely to be closed with yesterday’s ruling.
Meanwhile, yesterday’s ruling extended the prison term given to Liu Tai-ying (劉泰英), a close associate of Lee and former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) treasurer, to three years, from the previous two years and eight months.
The High Court said it found evidence that Liu had embezzled US$150,000 in traveler’s checks.
Liu’s lawyer, Chen Sung-tung (陳松棟), said the verdict was “unbelievable,” adding that there was no evidence that Liu embezzled state funds.
He said the verdict would be appealed to the Supreme Court.
WHEELING AND DEALING? Hou You-yi, Ko Wen-je, Eric Chu and Ma Ying-jeou are under investigation for allegedly offering bribes for the other side to drop out of the race Taipei prosecutors have started an investigation into allegations that four top politicians involved in attempts to form a “blue-white” presidential ticket have contravened election regulations. Listed as defendants are Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate and New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫), former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the KMT and Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲). The case stemmed from judicial complaints filed last month with the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office alleging that the KMT (blue) and the TPP (white) had engaged in bribery by offering money or other enticements
COUNTER DISINFORMATION: More engagement and media literacy are needed to push back against misinformation and claims that the US is an unreliable partner, the AIT director said The US is “confident” that Taiwan does not face an imminent threat of a Chinese invasion, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Sandra Oudkirk told a US public radio show, adding that Washington remains committed to defensively arming the nation. She made the comment during an interview on All Things Considered, broadcast on Friday on US-based National Public Radio. “There is an important distinction between making plans and training troops, and getting ready to do something,” Oudkirk said, on whether she thinks Beijing plans to attack Taiwan in the near future. Chinese officials have told Washington that “their preference is for peaceful reunification,
EXPOSED: Some Taipei wardens reported joining the trips out of peer pressure, while others said they were relieved it was made public so they could refuse, a city councilor said Nearly 30 percent of Taipei borough wardens have joined group tours to China that were partially funded by the Chinese government, leading prosecutors probing potential Chinese interference in January’s elections to question local officials, an investigation showed. Democratic Progressive Party Taipei City councilors Chien Shu-pei (簡舒培) and Chen E-jun (陳怡君) have reported cases of Taipei borough wardens inviting residents to join inexpensive privately organized group tours to China that were partially funded by the Chinese government. The six-day trips reportedly cost NT$10,000 to NT$15,000, the councilors said. An investigation by the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) showed that nearly 30 percent
ELIGIBLE FOR JANUARY: All presidential candidates and their running mates meet the requirements to run for office, and none hold dual citizenship, the CEC said Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Legislator and vice presidential candidate Cynthia Wu (吳欣盈) is working with the Central Election Commission (CEC) to resolve issues with her financial disclosure statement, a spokesman for the candidate said yesterday, after the commission published the statements of all three presidential candidates and their running mates, while confirming their eligibility to run in the Jan. 13 election. Wu’s office spokesman, Chen Yu-cheng (陳宥丞), said the candidate encountered unforeseen difficulties disclosing her husband’s finances due to being suddenly thrust into the campaign. She is also the first vice presidential nominee to have a foreign spouse, complicating the reporting of