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Convicted ex-lawmaker listed as wanted after prosecutors fail to find him

2012/04/25 17:51:11

Taipei, April 25 (CNA) Prosecutors issued a wanted notice Wednesday for former independent lawmaker Lo Fu-chu, who is believed to have fled the country to avoid serving a four-year prison term that was due to start Monday.

Investigators were seeking to arrest Lo after he failed to report to prosecutors Monday to begin serving his sentence for stock manipulation, document forgery and money laundering.

Prosecutors believe that Lo has fled the country and they have therefore put him on a wanted list.

The statute of limitations will not run out in Lo's case until December 2030, when he will be 87, prosecutors said.

By not showing up to start his prison term, Lo has forfeited his NT$10 million (US$339,000) bail bond.

He was convicted in March in the Supreme Court and had not been seen in public for nearly a month, which could indicate that he was in hiding, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Lo's son, Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Lo Ming-tsai, said he was not in a position to say too much about the matter.

In response to speculations that Lo Fu-chu might have fled to China, Fan Liqing, China's Taiwan Affairs Office spokeswoman, said at a news conference that Chinese authorities "have no specific information yet" on the case.

As to whether Lo Fu-chu has fled to some other country, National Immigration Agency chief Hsieh Li-kung said there was no record of the former legislator leaving from any of Taiwan's airports. Hsieh said he would not rule out the possibility that Lo has a second passport.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Lee Hong-yuan said Lo Fu-chu 's disappearance has exposed a gray area between the time of conviction and imprisonment. However, it would be difficult to institute 24-hour monitoring of convicted persons because it would be an infringement of their human rights, Lee said.

Nonetheless, Lee said his ministry and the Ministry of Justice will review the current regulations pertaining to such cases.

The justice ministry also pledged to revise the Code of Criminal Procedures soon with a view to allowing new measures such as electronic tracking of defendants and immediate imprisonment after conviction, said Lin Chin-tsun, deputy director of the ministry's department of prosecutorial affairs.

Under the current system, prosecutors have to summon convicted individuals who are not in detention at the time of sentencing. If the person fails to report to the prosecutors' office to start their sentences, the court then issues an arrest warrant, Lin explained.

Under the existing regulations, the police probably do not have sufficient resources to monitor convicted persons who are not in detention, said Wang Cho-chiun, director-general of the National Police Agency.

(By Liu Shih-yi, Lin Hui-chun, Lawrence Chiu, Angela Tsai and
Kendra Lin)
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