20131207 Supreme court upholds Kuo charges
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Supreme court upholds Kuo charges

By Rich Chang / Staff reporter, with CNA

The Supreme Court upheld an eight-year prison sentence against former minister of transportation and communications Kuo Yao-chi (郭瑤琪) on corruption charges in a final ruling on Thursday.

The court also stripped Kuo of her civil rights for four years in a ruling that upheld a conviction by the Taiwan High Court in March.

Kuo was convicted of bribery related to using her position as transportation minister to grant favors in 2006 to the Nan Ren Hu Group, a service industry conglomerate.

Within one month of accepting a bribe from Nan Ren Hu chairman Lee Ching-po (李清波), Kuo asked the Taiwan Railways Administration to hear a second presentation on a tender for a renovation and shop rental project, according to the court verdict.

In 2007, the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office indicted Kuo on corruption charges, saying she had accepted a cash bribe of US$20,000, which was delivered to her in a tea gift box, in exchange for helping the Nan Ren Hu group secure a contract on the railway station project.

In court trials in 2009 and 2010, she was acquitted of the charges on the grounds that although she had pocketed the money from Nan Ren Hu, she had not given any concrete directives on the tender or attempted to influence the bidding process. The Nan Ren Hu group did not take part in the bidding in the end, the lower courts ruled.

However, prosecutors appealed the decisions and obtained a High Court conviction earlier this year.

Kuo’s case followed a similar ruling against another former government official.

Kuo’s lawyer, Wellington Koo (顧立雄), said yesterday that Kuo was very frustrated upon learning of the ruling.

Since “inconsistent testimony” made by Lee Tsung-hsien (李宗賢), son of Nan Ren Hu Group chairman Lee Ching-po (李清波), became a key piece of evidence to convict Kuo, she might file a lawsuit accusing the younger Lee of perjury, Koo added.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said the party believed Kuo was not guilty and said the judiciary had a history of repressing the DPP administration’s former government officials.

In response, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) spokesman Yang Wei-chun (楊偉中) asked the DPP not to “bully” the judiciary.

On Nov. 28, the Supreme Court also upheld a prison sentence of 12 years and six months against former vice minister of the interior Yen Wan-ching (顏萬進), who was convicted of corruption.

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