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September 26, 2017

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Former Miaoli magistrate gets 14-year prison term for corruption

TAIPEI--The Taiwan High Court handed down a 14-year prison sentence Thursday on former Miaoli County Magistrate and Kuomintang (KMT) legislator Ho Chih-hui, who is at large, for corruption and breach of trust.

In its second retrial of the case, the court found that Ho and Hsiung Ming-wu, who owned a farm and forest product company, jointly skimmed more than NT$200 million from a land development deal in Tunglo, Miaoli County, during Ho's term as county magistrate in 1993 and later as a KMT lawmaker in 1999.

Dividing the illicit profits between them, Ho pocketed NT$130 million and Hsiung took NT$80 million, according to the court verdict.

It said the two had committed a "heinous crime" by coercing Hsinchu Science Park Administration officials to hand over properties to them. After their illicit behavior was discovered, Ho admitted he had "overstepped" his administrative authority and Hsiung tried to deny responsibility, the verdict said.

The court therefore sentenced Ho to 14 years in prison and a suspension of civil rights for eight years. Hsiung got an 11-year prison term and a five-year suspension of his civil rights. The court will also act to recover their ill-gotten gains of NT$223.54 million, according to the verdict.

In the first trial of this case, Ho was sentenced to 19 years in prison, and the sentence was cut to 15 years in the appeal court.

The case took a dramatic turn when all three judges in a retrial of the case acquitted Ho but were later found guilty of taking bribes of between NT$1.5 million and NT$3 million from him. The three judges were subsequently sentenced to 11.5 to 20 years in prison in June.

Ho fled the country when the news broke that he had bribed the judges. He is currently on a wanted list, with an arrest warrant that extends until May 15, 2035.

Both Ho and Hsiung can appeal their sentences.

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