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High court upholds not guilty verdicts in diplomatic corruption case

2012/06/20 17:30:27

Taipei, June 20 (CNA) The Taiwan High Court on Wednesday agreed with a lower court in finding two former officials not guilty of defrauding the government of US$500,000 in secret diplomatic funds to promote diplomacy.

The court maintained that former National Security Council Secretary-General Chiou I-jen and former Vice Foreign Minister Michael Kau did not pocket or abuse the funds.

Upon hearing the verdict, Chiou's lawyer, Kao Yung-cheng, said Chiou was "vindicated" by the acquittals in the two trials.

The process also showed that "there could be malfeasance on the part of Special Investigation Division (SID) of the Supreme Prosecutors Office," the lawyer said.

Kao noted that Chiou was detained for 50 days during the investigation of the case, and he said that if Chiou was ultimately found innocent, he would ask for national compensation for being wrongfully detained.

Prosecutors can still appeal the high court's verdict if they feel it did not properly apply the law.

In their indictment, SID prosecutors alleged that irregularities occurred in relation to a diplomatic initiative launched in 2004 by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration, dubbed "An Ya."

They said the initiative, taken after Taiwan joined the World Trade Organization (WTO), hoped to enlist the support of WTO Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi in blocking China from forcing Taiwan to adopt any designation at the WTO that would imply a downgrade of its sovereign status.

The prosecutors said Chiou instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to allocate US$500,000 to the project and charged him with keeping the funds for himself.

Kau was indicted on similar corruption charges for directing the ministry to issue traveler's checks for the amount.

In the two former officials' initial trial, Taipei District Court judges found that the initiative was a collaboration between the National Security Council and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was not decided by Chiou alone.

Also, according to the testimony of witnesses, the traveler's checks were cashed and signed by the representatives of the intended beneficiary and not Chiou, and the district court agreed.

The High Court upheld the district court's findings, but it did not offer any public explanation Wednesday to back its ruling.

(By Huang Yi-han and Lilian Wu)