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Premier supports Interior Ministry's ruling on Nantou ex-magistrate

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Premier Jiang Yi-huah showed support for the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) in its refusal to reinstate Lee Chao-ching back into office yesterday, saying that officials have acted according to the Civil Servant Discipline Act.

A suspended Nantou magistrate, Lee was detained last year over corruption charges and suspended from his post. Protesting his innocence, Lee requested reinstatement to his post but was turned down by the MOI minister.

Jiang stressed that according to the discipline act, competent authorities have the power to suspend a civil servant from his or her duties if the case involved is considered “severe.” He said that he respected the MOI's decision.

MOI Minister Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) said that the decision was not simply his own but of a jurisdiction committee which thoroughly contemplated the case before reaching a final decision. Now that the case has been turned over to the Control Yuan, Minister Lee said he was not in a position to comment on the issue.

Hopefully he will take the time to make a good case, Minister Lee added.

Magistrate Lee is accused of having received NT$31.7 million in kickbacks from local firms in return for awarding projects, some of them related to post-typhoon reconstruction of roads and bridges.

After Lee was released on bail last Tuesday, he immediately applied for reinstatement to the post, which the MOI rejected earlier this week.

Stunned by the MOI's ruling, former Magistrate Lee complained that the MOI chose to punish him without a court ruling first, simply assuming that he was corrupt. He spoke to the public yesterday, saying that although he was very disappointed with the court, he will continue to cooperate with the Control Yuan.

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