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KMT lawmaker, wife indicted for alleged vote-buying

2016/03/17 12:46:13

KMT Legislator Chien Tung-ming (center) and wife (left) pray when register his candidacy in November.

Taipei, March 17 (CNA) Chien Tung-ming (簡東明), a lawmaker of the Kuomintang (KMT), his wife and dozens of others have been indicted for alleged vote-buying and taking bribes during his campaign before he won re-election earlier this year.

The Pingtung County District Prosecutors' Office on Wednesday brought the indictment against Chien and another 57 people accused of having helped him buy votes and of taking bribes.

The office said Chien's election campaign headquarters in Chaozhou Township of Pingtung County was suspected of having two staffers who conducted vote-buying in two different villages. They are accused of having given money to 55 so-called "campaign staff" who have voting rights, in return for them voting for Chien, it said.

After an investigation, prosecutors said they believe the money was given to eligible voters, instead of those who were hired for campaign duties, and that the money was not handed out transparently, the prosecutors' office said.

Meanwhile, the Taichung District Prosecutors' Office charged Chien's wife, Tai Chin-hua (戴錦花), and 27 alleged Chien supporters with buying votes for her husband.

Tai, a Taichung resident, was found to have been involved in the practice of paying transportation fees for voters qualified to elect an aboriginal lawmaker to return to their places of household registration to vote, according to the prosecutors' office.

Chien, 65, was re-elected as an aboriginal candidate in the legislative election of Jan. 16. There are six aboriginal seats in the Legislative Yuan, and candidates for those seats can only be elected by eligible aboriginal voters in the places around Taiwan where they have their households registered.

The Taichung District Prosecutors' Office accused Tai and her husband's supporters of trying to secure votes for Chien, violating the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act.

Chien claimed on Wednesday that the tens of thousands of Taiwan dollars going to the co-defendants in the case was meant to cover their expenditure while canvassing for him.

On Feb. 19, the district prosecutors' office filed a petition at the local court for Chien's election to be declared null and void after several party activists and campaign staffers were detained in Taichung and Pingtung, respectively, for alleged vote-buying.

According to the Civil Servants Election And Recall Act, the lawsuit seeking election nullity has to be finalized in two trials, meaning that the conclusion of the legal action will not be reached for around one year.

The judicial procedure for vote-buying charges can take three trials. Therefore, it is possible that a trial of a lawmaker for such an offense can possibly not be finalized until after the lawmaker has finished his/her four-year term, Central Election Commission officials said.

Although the Legislative Yuan can relieve a member of his or her duty once the member is found guilty of vote-buying in the first trail, in practice it has never happened before.

(By Kuo Chu-chen and Elizabeth Hsu)