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Ex-president wins civil case linked to land scandal

2012/06/21 21:38:36

Taipei, June 21 (CNA) Former President Chen Shui-bian Thursday won a civil case against him for his role in a land purchase scandal that partly led to the 17.5-year prison term he is currently serving for corruption during his tenure as president from 2000-2008.

The case was brought by the Science Park Administration (SPA) of the government-run Hsinchu Science Park, which seeks compensation for overpaying in the purchase of land in Lungtan, Taoyuan County.

According to Chen's lawyer Hung Kwei-san, the former president, who was in the Taipei District Court to hear the ruling, said he was not surprised and was satisfied about the court's decision.

Meanwhile, Yeh Shu-hung, the lawyer that represents the SPA, said he will look for grounds for appeal after receiving a written copy of the ruling, as the court's decision is not a final ruling.

During the trial, the SPA argued that it was instructed by Chen to buy the land from a company owned by Leslie Koo, who is also the chairman of Taiwan Cement Corp., after Chen's wife Wu Shu-jen took a kickback of NT$400 million (US$13.38 million) from Koo.

Since Koo later included that amount in the offer price, the SPA believes it paid too much for the land and sued Chen, Wu, Koo and his company that sold the Lungtan land, the former SPA head James Lee and Tsai Ming-che -- Chen's family friend who took the money on behalf of Wu.

While Chen and Wu were found guilty in the corruption cases for taking bribes and influencing the Lungtan deal, along with helping a businesswoman land the top post at Taipei 101, the district court said the SPA failed to prove the connection between the kickback and its overpaying for the land.

According to the court ruling, Chen and Wu were not involved in the price negotiation, and the final purchase price was NT$1 billion less than the initial contract price because of budget cuts by the Legislature.

(By Tsai Pei-chi and Kay Liu)