Yu Fang-chih (
Sung claims to possess magical powers, which he uses to solicit donations with promises of power, wisdom or fortune. Both the mayor and his wife have been the cult leader's sincere followers for years.
PHOTO: LIAO CHENG-HUEI, TAIPEI TIMES
Sung was sued by some of his former followers for fraud in 1997. One of 17 defendants in the case was Yu, who was charged for helping Sung publish a series of religious books to attract followers.
Sung was found guilty that year, as was his assistant Cheng Chen-tung (
The case was appealed, and in yesterday's court session at the Taiwan High Court, Sung was accompanied by almost 100 followers, most holding flowers in deference to their leader.
During yesterday's proceedings, Yu said that she still firmly believes in Sung.
"Both my husband [Hsieh] and I still believe in Sung's divine powers to this day," Yu said yesterday.
After the session, Yu told reporters that Sung was absolutely innocent.
"I witnessed his divinity with my own eyes," Yu said, insisting that the cult leader's spirit could leave his body and move around.
In response, the Kaohsiung City Government issued a press release yesterday evening, saying that Hsieh supported his wife's words.
"Hsieh supports his wife and believes that her religious belief is good. He also hopes that people can respect the freedom of religious beliefs," the press release said.
According to police, Sung insisted during his investigation that he has supernatural powers and can get people to do whatever he says.
Police therefore invited him to display his powers in public. But he failed to persuade a standing police officer to sit down despite repeated attempts.
Sung also frequently used "divine photos" to win the trust of his followers.
The pictures usually depicted colorful rays of light in the sky and a ring of light around his head.
However, these photos were proven to have been doctored using basic computer graphics skills.
In 1997, then New Party Taipei City councilor Chu Mei-feng (
In 1998, Hsieh's close relations with the notorious cult leader were seriously questioned by the public during the Kaohsiung mayoral election.
It was not clear when the Taiwan High Court would rule on the appeal.
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