Former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Central Standing Committee member Hsiao Ching-tien (蕭景田) on Thursday was charged with breaching the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act (公職人員選舉罷免法) for allegedly buying votes on behalf of Taipei City Councilor Lin Hsing-er (林杏兒) in the local elections in November last year, the Shilin District Prosecutors’ Office said.
In a statement released the same day, the office said that 11 people — Hsiao, vote broker Tseng Fan-chuan (曾繁川) and borough wardens — were indicted on charges linked to accepting bribes or engaging in vote-buying during Lin’s campaign in the run-up to the Nov. 26 vote.
Prosecutors have confiscated NT$110,000 (US$3,608.92) that was allegedly used for bribes, the office said.
Lin, who denies any knowledge of the alleged vote-buying, has been designated a witness, it said.
One of the defendants, surnamed Chang (張), was granted deferred prosecution after admitting wrongdoing and returning money he received, it added.
Hsiao and Tseng bought votes for Lin, who ran for city councilor in Taipei’s first electoral district, which comprises Shilin (士林) and Beitou (北投) districts, the indictment read.
On Nov. 22 last year, Hsiao and Tseng were driven by a volunteer worker from Lin’s campaign office to visit several local candidates as part of a plan devised by Hsiao, who handed them envelopes each containing NT$10,000 and campaign leaflets in exchange for their support, it said.
Prosecutors searched the offices and residences of Hsiao and Tseng in December last year after receiving a tip-off.
Although both denied having engaged in vote-buying, envelopes containing cash, recordings of conversations between Tseng and other defendants, and video footage showing the movement of personnel and vehicles at the offices of several candidates were seized, leading prosecutors to believe that bribes were paid, it said.
Hsiao fled his residence in Changhua County in late December last year.
The 69-year-old voluntarily reported to the Shilin District Prosecutors’ Office on Jan. 3, five days after the office issued a warrant for his arrest.
Prosecutors twice asked that Hsiao be detained and held incommunicado, but the High Court rejected the requests and upheld a Shilin District Court order to release Hsiao, first on NT$8 million bail and later on NT$15 million bail, arguing that he was neither a flight risk nor capable of destroying, forging or colluding with others to tamper with evidence.
Meanwhile, the Shilin District Court is still hearing a suit filed by prosecutors on Dec. 30 last year to overturn Lin’s election victory due to the allegations.
Lin, who took office on Dec. 25, on Thursday said that she respects the judiciary and believes her name will be cleared.
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