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Annette Lu pleads not guilty of corruption




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Tuesday, November 20, 2007
By David Young, The China Post


Vice President Annette Lu pleaded not guilty yesterday at the first trial hearing of her corruption case at the Taipei district court, complaining against a double standard prosecutors applied in indicting her for misusing two different public funds under her control.

Appearing at the courthouse shortly before the hearing was to start, Lu fired a broadside on the prosecution for unfairly charging her with corruption.

"They applied a double standard," Lu told reporters on a courthouse corridor. She scolded Hou Kuan-jen and other prosecutors of the Special Counsel who indicted her on Sept. 21.

The first vice president ever to be tried in Taiwan history, Lu was charged with misusing her expense account and another public fund under her control for the conduct of "affairs of state."

Hou Kuan-jen indicted KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-Jeou last Feb. 24 for corruption in the misuse of his expense account while he was mayor of Taipei from 1998 to 2006.

Ma was acquitted on Aug. 14.

The double standard Lu complained about was in fact the one applied by the prosecution and the judges who exonerated Ma. Hou appealed the acquittal, and Ma is awaiting a verdict the Taiwan high court in Taipei is expected to hand down before the end of this year.

Judge Liu Fang-tzu, in conference with Lin Keng-tung and Chiang Chun-yen, presided over the hearing which began at 9:30 a.m.

After chiding the vice president for arriving late by a few minutes, Liu asked her how she would plead to the charges of corruption.

"I plead not guilty," the vice president said.

Lu went on to claim the charges against her by the prosecution were not substantiated. "What they produced as evidence wasn't true," she pointed out.

For one thing, the vice president said, the expense account, officially known as a special fund, is a "historical sin."

High public office holders were allowed to use the special fund however they chose without any justification after Chiang Kai-shek moved his Kuomintang government from Nanjing to Taipei at the end of 1949.

Their allowances were considered part of their pay. The practice had continued until earlier this year. That is the reason why Su Tseng-chang, the then premier, called the special fund or the expense account a historical sin. More than 6,000 incumbent and retired government officials are under investigation for misusing the expense account.

Some of them have been indicted. Aside from Lu, Yu Shyi-kung, a former premier, and Chen Tang Sun, secretary-general of the National Security Council, are standing trial.

But Hou Kuan-jen did not indict Frank Hsieh, Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate, and his running mate Su Tseng-chang.

Apparently, Ma's expense account was considered a historical sin by the judges who acquitted him.

As a matter of fact, Lu said, she never asked her secretary how her expense account was spent. "How, then, could I be responsible?" she questioned.

As to the state affairs fund, Lu said President Chen Shui-bian provided her with NT$150,000 a month for use at her discretion. "I spent much more than that amount every month for charity and public welfare," she claimed.

"The spending in excess of the allotted amount wasn't touched upon in the written indictment," Lu protested.

At the request of her defense attorney, the presiding judge had to conclude the hearing ahead of schedule at 10:35 a.m. She was excused for attending a previously arranged official function.

On leaving the courthouse, Lu again told the waiting

press she does not understand why the judges and the prosecution had opposite views on the expense account.

"Who in the judiciary are finally responsible for upholding justice?" the vice president asked.

No date has been set for Lu's second trial hearing.



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