Taipei court revokes bail, detains lawmaker over bribery case

08/08/2020 09:39 PM
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Chao Cheng-yu (left). CNA photo Aug. 8, 2020
Chao Cheng-yu (left). CNA photo Aug. 8, 2020

Taipei, Aug. 8 (CNA) The Taipei District Court on Saturday revoked a bail decision and ordered independent lawmaker Chao Cheng-yu (趙正宇) to be detained and held incommunicado over concerns he could destroy evidence or flee the country as a result of his involvement in a bribery case.

In a statement, the district court said there was a possibility Chao could try to escape and evade trial, since the penalty for corruption carries a minimum five-year sentence.

Considering the influence he has both on the political and business scene, if free to come and go, he could also collude and exert pressure over material witnesses in order to destroy evidence, the Taipei court said.

The suspect has so far been unable to explain the origin of a large amount of cash seized during a recent raid of his home, the court said.

Meanwhile, his statements also contradict that given by Lin Chia-chi (林家騏), his office chief, which suggests a cover-up, the court added.

Lin, who is also involved in the case, was detained and held incommunicado following a court hearing on Monday.

The ruling on Saturday came after the Taipei District Prosecutors Office earlier this week filed an appeal with the Taiwan High Court over the lower court's ruling to free Chao on NT$1 million bail, stressing that detaining the two suspects was necessary because of the seriousness of their crimes. The High Court concurred and sent the matter back to the District Court.

The Taoyuan-based legislator is accused of allegedly taking bribes to help two mortuary service providers obtain private land in Yangmingshan National Park to be rezoned for mortuary service use.

Kuo Ke-ming (郭克銘), former aide of ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker Su Chen-ching (蘇震清), allegedly served as the middleman.

Chao is said to have successfully pressured the Construction and Planning Agency to allow a cemetery to be built on the land after changing the zoning of the land to make it available for private use.

During a raid of Chao's home in Taoyuan's Bade District last Friday, prosecutors found NT$9.2 million in cash in a bag, which is believed to be the bribe Kuo paid to the lawmaker on behalf of the two companies.

Meanwhile, the heads of the two mortuary services providers surnamed Chung (鍾) and Chen (陳) were released on NT$1 million and NT$300,000 bail last Saturday after being questioned by prosecutors.

In addition, the chief of the Yangmingshan National Park Management Office surnamed Liu (劉) was released on NT$50,000 bail and could face charges of dereliction of duty, according to prosecutors.

Chao is currently the fourth incumbent lawmaker to be detained after the DPP's Su and Liao Kuo-tung (廖國棟) and Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) of the opposition Kuomintang. Liao and Chen are embroiled in a separate bribery case that involved taking bribes from businessman Lee Heng-lung (李恆隆) to help him in his legal battle against the Far Eastern Group over ownership of Pacific SOGO Department Store.

Also Saturday, the Taiwan High Court upheld an earlier decision by the Taipei District Court to have Kuo and Lee detained.

(By Hsiao Po-wen and Ko Lin)

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