A lawyer and a prosecutor yesterday castigated what they called a lenient ruling by the High Court on Luo Wen-shan (羅文山), whose prison sentence was reduced to two years, which he does not need to serve, after he was convicted for receiving illegal political donations from China to meddle in Taiwan’s elections.
Investigators found that Luo, who retired from the army with the rank of lieutenant general, had accepted NT$8.38 million (US$294,604 at the current exchange rate) under the guise of political contributions from Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference member Xu Zhiming (許智明) and people in Hong Kong from 2008 to 2012. He was also the head of the pro-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Whampoa Military Academy Alumni Association.
Luo was sentenced to two years and six months in prison in the first ruling.
However, the High Court on Tuesday reduced his sentence to two years, which can be commuted to a fine of NT$720,000.
The High Court also ordered the return of the NT$8.38 million Luo had received, as it was found that he was instructed to use the money to take out advertisements and purchase other promotional materials to support then-president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) election campaign.
Attorney Huang Di-ying (黃帝穎) and chairman of the Taiwan Forever Association decried the sentence as being too lenient.
“It was a ridiculous court decision... The judges seemed wanting to encourage retired military officials to accept money from China to meddle in Taiwan’s democratic election,” Huang said.
“The High Court cited Luo’s advanced age of 85, him having no previous criminal conviction and his long years serving in the military. These are the reasons for reducing his sentence to a two-year term, which can be commuted to a fine. I see the judges had applied the wrong law for this case,” Huang added.
“Precisely because Luo had a long career in our nation’s military, he should understand much better the regulations governing political donations from foreign sources. Instead of abiding by Taiwanese law, he took money from figures in Hong Kong, and also from Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference member Xu Zhiming [許智明] to do China’s work in Taiwan’s election,” he added.
“Luo is a retired general, and his pension is paid by Taiwanese taxpayers. Luo has clearly violated his duty and obligation of loyalty to the country, therefore his punishment should be more severe... We see the High Court had contradicted itself on the cited reasons,” Huang said.
In cases when convicts receive a reduced sentence due to advanced age, the defendants usually make admissions of guilt and of their wrongdoing, “but Luo denied doing anything wrong through the trials, insisting that the money was not for political purposes. Despite this, Luo still received a lenient sentence,” he added.
Meanwhile, a public prosecutor, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also called for an appeal, saying the sentence was too lenient.
“Most court cases involving national security and espionage activities require sensitive handling and cannot reveal the classified materials, and are difficult for the investigation work,” the prosecutor said.
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