Ex-president Lee found not guilty of corruption in retrial

08/20/2014 11:10 PM
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Taipei, Aug. 20 (CNA) The Taiwan High Court upheld Wednesday a district court's verdict that found former President Lee Teng-hui not guilty of corruption and money laundering during his time in office between 1988 and 2000.

In the second judgment absolving Lee of wrongdoing, the presiding judge said no evidence presented by prosecutors was sufficient to prove guilt.

Law professionals said the verdict can be appealed but only under one of the following conditions stipulated by the Criminal Speedy Trial Act: the law or order applied in the judgment is unconstitutional; the judgment violates an interpretation by the Judicial Yuan; or the judgment contradicts precedent.

The prosecution said it will decide whether or not to appeal after receiving the verdict in writing and studying the details of the Criminal Speedy Trial Act.

Lee and close confidant Liu Tai-ying, who was chief financial manager of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) during Lee's presidency, were indicted in June 2011 after the Special Investigation Division of the Supreme Prosecutors Office discovered US$7.79 million diverted from a secret fund in the 1990s to set up and finance the Taiwan Research Institute, a private research organization founded by Liu in 1992.

The high court sentenced Liu to three years in prison for embezzlement of pubic funds and ordered him to return US$150,000 acquired through criminal acts to state coffers.

Liu's case can be appealed.

The 91-year-old Lee was not present Wednesday for the announcement of the ruling.

In a statement, his office said the former president did not display much joy while learning the verdict, but that he hopes the case will be closed for good.

He said that in Taiwan, a democratic country, "the authorities in power should not use manipulation of the judiciary to maintain the regime" -- implying the case against him came from the top.

Meanwhile, Liu's lawyer, Chen Sung-yung, said he will appeal the ruling against his client.

"If my client was determined to embezzle public funds, he would have done it secretly and put the money into his pocket quietly," Chen argued.

On the contrary, he said, Liu recorded all the details of the money he transferred to the Taiwan Research Institute in its financial reports, which he believes differentiates the act from embezzlement.

(By Liu Shih-yi, Sophia Yeh and Elizabeth Hsu)ENDITEM/WH

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