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Tainan City Council speaker found guilty of bribery; suspended

2016/04/22 20:07:21

Tainan City Council Speaker Lee Chuan-chiao.

Taipei, April 22 (CNA) Tainan City Council Speaker Lee Chuan-chiao (李全教) was sentenced to four years in jail by the Tainan District Court on Friday after being found guilty of promising money in exchange for votes in the council's speaker election in 2014.

He was also deprived of his civil rights for five years, according to the court's verdict.

Because of the ruling, the 56-year-old Lee will be suspended from his duties as speaker of the municipal council, effective from the day of the ruling (Friday), according to the Civil Servants Election And Recall Act.

Lee, a member of the Kuomintang (KMT), can appeal the ruling.

Tainan prosecutors indicted Lee and seven other people, including independent City Councilor Kuo Hsiu-chu (郭秀珠), on April 2, 2015 for promising money to seven independent and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) councilors through six middlemen in exchange for their votes for Lee in the municipal council speaker election, held on Dec. 25, 2014.

Lee was charged with violating the election and recall act, under which "asking for expected promises or delivering bribes or other undue benefits" to those with the right to vote in a council speaker election is subject to a prison term of between three and 10 years.

Kuo, who was Lee's running mate, was acquitted of the charges along with three others.

But three middlemen in the scandal were found guilty.

Former Xigang Township chief Cho Hua-min (卓華民) was sentenced to 20 months in prison; Lu Chin-shen (羅進生), an ex-aide to aboriginal city councilor Kumu Hacyo (谷暮.哈就), was given 20 months in jail; and former Tainan County Councilor Wu Chun-cheng (吳春成) was given an eight-month jail term.

Lee was elected speaker of the Tainan City Council by a 29-26 margin over then-incumbent Speaker Lai Mei-hui (賴美惠) of the DPP. The result was a big surprise because the KMT had only 16 seats in the 57-member council, compared with 29 for DPP.

Lee, meanwhile, was previously found guilty on Jan. 21, 2016 of buying votes in 2014 to win elected to the council.

The ruling invalidated his electoral victory, but Lee has remained on the council because he has appealed that ruling.

The case is now being handled by the Tainan branch of the Taiwan High Court.

(By Yang Sz-ruei and Elizabeth Hsu)