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September 25, 2017

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Former DPP official confirmed not guilty

The China Post--The Taiwan High Court (高等法院) yesterday upheld a lower court's not-guilty verdict for former Democratic Progressive Party official Chiou I-jen (邱義仁), who had stood accused of skimming state funds earmarked for diplomacy.

Last August, the Taipei District Court found Chiou and former Vice Foreign Minister Michael Kau (高英茂) not guilty of embezzling funds during Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) tenure as president. The Special Investigation Division (SID, 特偵組) sent the case to the High Court (高等法院) for appeal.

The High Court said Wednesday morning that they have dismissed the SID appeal and upheld the defendants' original verdict of not guilty.

Chiou did not appear in court yesterday morning, but sent an attorney to receive the verdict by proxy. Upon confirming the sentence, Chiou's attorney Kao Yung-cheng (高涌誠) made a phone call to the defendant, who did not answer.

Kao told local media that the double acquittal underscores the fact that the SID prosecution was "rash."

"There could also be malfeasance on the part of the SID," said Kao.

Kao said he is prepared to file a compensation claim for unjust detention on Chiou's behlaf.

Ruling May Stand

Most likely the acquittal will stand, as chances are slim that the case could face another review.

For a higher court to uphold the not guilty judgment of a lower court is one condition that contributes to the rejection of appeal by the Taiwan Supreme Court, according to Article 8 of the Criminal Speedy Trial Act (刑事妥速審判法).

Getting a third review of the case would be exceptionally difficult, said Kao.

He added that Chiou had been detained for 51 days before being released on NT$500,000 bail. If Chiou does apply for compensation, he is eligible for up to NT$250,000.

No Comment: SID

Supreme Prosecutors' Office SID spokesman Chen Hung-ta (陳宏達) declined to comment yesterday. The prosecution has not yet received the written court decision and does not know the reasons behind the verdict, said Chen.

Chiou's case began in 2008, when prosecutors summoned him as a witness in the Chen Shui-bian embezzlement case.

On Oct. 31, 2008, prosecutors detained Chiou himself, citing reasonable cause to believe that he had pocketed state funds when he served under Chen as Secretary-General of the National Security Council.

Chiou was charged for requesting US$500,000 from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) for the so-called "An-ya Project" (安亞專案), a mission that channels aid to Taiwan's diplomatic allies.

Prosecutors said that Chiou received the amount in traveler's checks — some allegedly cashed at casinos overseas after the project had expired.

Then vice foreign minister Kau was accused of ordering MOFA to issue the allegedly abused checks.

The Taipei District Court later determined that the checks were cashed and signed by the representatives of the intended beneficiary and not by Chiou. After defendants were acquitted in August 2011, prosecutors filed an appeal with the Taiwan High Court.

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