Ex-minister's 8-year sentence for bribery upheld
By Joy Lee, The China Post
December 6, 2013, 12:02 am TWN
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Supreme Court yesterday upheld bribery charges against former Minister of Transportation and Communications Kuo Yao-chi (郭瑤琪), confirming a sentence of eight years imprisonment handed down by the Taipei High Court in a second trial.
The court also upheld the Taipei High Court's decision to strip Kuo of his civil rights for a period of four years.
On March 30, 2007, Kuo was accused of accepting a US$20,000 bribe from members of the Nan Ren Hu Group (南仁湖集團), a service industry conglomerate, in return for “granting” them a contract to perform required renovations to Taipei Main Railway Station.
The money was allegedly hidden in a tea container, although Lee Ching-po and Lee Tsung-hsien, two members of the Nan Ren Hu Group who were allegedly behind the bribe, were not tried due to insufficient evidence.
The Taipei District Prosecutors Office charged Kuo under the Anti-Corruption Act and sought an eight-year sentence in cases in 2007 and 2009. Kuo, however, was exonerated by the Taipei District Court.
After prosecutors sent an appeal to the Taiwan High Court, Kuo was once again acquitted on March 31, 2010. Prosecutors again appealed the case, and the Supreme Court ordered a retrial at the High Court in 2011, at which the presiding judge overturned the previous verdicts based on the argument that bribery does not have to result in the awarding of a contract to meet the standard for illegal activity.
The High Court's verdict said that even though there were no records indicating Nan Ren Hu Group had ever submitted a bid for the project, Kuo did ask the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) to deliver a second presentation on a renovation and shop-rental project, a request that was considered highly unusual.
Kuo appealed to the Supreme Court, and the Court yesterday rejected Kuo's appeal and settled the case by upholding the High Court verdict of eight years imprisonment.
Considering Filing Another Appeal: Kuo
Kuo said yesterday that she will talk to her lawyer regarding the possibility of filing an extraordinary appeal or retrial request.
Kuo said that it was hard for her to accept the Supreme Court's verdict, about which she was extremely upset.
Kuo's lawyer Wellington Ku (顧立雄) said that Kuo was also considering suing Lee Tsung-hsien for perjury because of inconsistencies in his testimony.
“I did not sue him because I am tired of constantly making trips to court. And my religious beliefs do not permit me to hold enmity,” said Kuo.
“There was no evidence showing that I accepted the bribe,” said Kuo. “Plus, the Nan Ren Hu Group did not participate in the bidding.”
“I will do everything I can to prove my innocence,” said Kuo. Ku said that the Supreme Court did not clarify certain points of doubt regarding this case, an outcome which she called unreasonable.