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September 22, 2017

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Court frees Keelung speaker on bail for the third time

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Keelung District Court for the third time released Keelung City Council Speaker Huang Ching-tai (黃景泰) on bail yesterday morning, for NT$2 million. Prosecutors said they have decided not to appeal against the district court's ruling this time.

The court explained that although Huang's alleged involvement in corruption may be punishable by at least five-years in prison, such alleged involvement should not be considered the only requirement for being detained while the investigation is still ongoing.

The district court said that, as prosecutors have completed the questioning of other suspects, it deemed that there is no possibility of Huang fleeing the country or of him colluding with others. Therefore, it dismissed prosecutors' request for Huang's continued detention.

After the district court made its ruling, the chief prosecutor of the KDPO, Chou Chi-yung (周啟勇), announced at around 4 a.m. yesterday that his office will not file an appeal against it.

Investigation Ongoing

Chou said that as the KDPO has limited manpower for the investigation, it could not keep wasting it on bail hearings. He further said that there is the possibility of the suspect learning information about the details of the investigation while listening to the prosecutors' defense in the hearings. Therefore, the KDPO decided to drop their appeal.

Keelung prosecutors said they will continue to probe the case as scheduled, noting that, at the same time, they will summon witnesses who have not yet been questioned in the case.

Noting that they will clarify the details of how Huang allegedly conducted improper lobbying, prosecutors said they will also compare Huang's statements with the officials' statements.

Huang is accused of taking bribes from a local construction consortium and allegedly pressuring Keelung officials to offer benefits to the construction firms. The Keelung District Prosecutors Office recently raided the city government building and Huang's office in the city council.

Prosecutors discovered Chinese yuan and other cash worth a total of NT$5 million in a bedroom attached to Huang's office in the city council. Huang claimed that the cash in his office was from political donations, however, prosecutors believe that Huang did not clearly explain the source of the money.

Eight suspects including Huang were questioned by prosecutors over allegations of bribery and improper lobbying. Investigations into the allegations are still ongoing.

The district court held the detention hearing for Huang's case under the purview of the Taiwan High Court on June 21 and announced that it will maintain its previous ruling to free the city council speaker on a NT$2-million bail at around 3 a.m. yesterday.

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