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District court again grants bail to ex-vice premier accused of corruption (update)

07/09/2024 09:01 PM
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Former Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (right) exits the Taoyuan District Court on Tuesday. CNA photo July 9, 2024
Former Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (right) exits the Taoyuan District Court on Tuesday. CNA photo July 9, 2024

Taipei, July 9 (CNA) The Taoyuan District Court granted bail to former Vice Premier Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) for a second time after rejecting a detention request from prosecutors investigating corruption allegations Tuesday.

Cheng, 57, was summoned by the Taoyuan District Prosecutors Office on July 5 as part of an investigation into a corruption case during his stint as Taoyuan mayor from December 2014 to December 2022.

He was released on NT$5 million (US$153,668) bail the next day, a ruling that prosecutors appealed and saw successfully overturned on Monday.

Despite the High Court's decision based on the failure of the local court to explain its ruling, Cheng was released by the district court for a second time on Tuesday after paying an increased bail of NT$12 million.

The court also imposed an exit ban and limits on Cheng's movements.

Prosecutors immediately appealed the ruling at the bail hearing.

The district court released a statement later that day, explaining why it did not find it necessary to detain Cheng.

Addressing prosecutors' worries that Cheng could tamper with evidence, collude with witnesses and other suspects, or even influence civil servants and witnesses, the court said that as Cheng left his post as Taoyuan mayor more than 18 months ago, it is doubtful he still has influence in the city government.

Although prosecutors suspect Cheng had help from his secretary or driver relating to his alleged illegal acts, there is currently no evidence these individuals are involved in the case, the court argued.

The court also noted that four other suspects have been detained, with only one elderly suspect of 90 years granted bail, and therefore prosecutors have yet to sufficiently justify their fears over the possibility of collusion.

Furthermore, as the case occurred years ago and prosecutors have collected detailed evidence, the court does not find their motion reasonable, the statement said.

While the court agreed that Cheng may have played a major role in the case and that he poses a flight risk, it also suggested that the increased bail of NT$12 million as well as restrictions on domicile and bans from leaving Taiwan make it unnecessary to detain him.

After serving as Taoyuan mayor, Cheng was appointed vice premier by then President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) until May 2024, when he was appointed chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) by Lai Ching-te (賴清德), Taiwan's current president.

The SEF is a semiofficial organization tasked by Taiwan's government with handling technical matters involving China.

Cheng stepped down from the post on Sunday.

(By Wu Jui-chi and Wu Kuan-hsien)

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