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Sentenced ex-transport minister mulling extraordinary appeal

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Former Transportation Minister Kuo Yao-chi (郭瑤琪) yesterday maintained her innocence after the Supreme Court earlier in the week sentenced her to eight years in prison for corruption.

Kuo said that she will seek every possible means to have the ruling overturned.

Kuo was indicted for accepting US$20,000 from Nan Ren Hu Entertainment Co. (南仁湖集團) and was subsequently given an eight-year prison sentence by the Supreme Court on Dec. 5.

The former minister held a press conference yesterday insisting on her innocence. Kuo was accompanied by her lawyers Wellington Ku (顧立雄) and Li Yung-ran (李永然), as well as Taipei mayoral aspirant Dr. Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) and others.

According to Ku, the whereabouts of the US$20,000 in question has not yet been determined, and the prison sentence was given on the basis of one-sided testimony by Li Tsung-hsien (李宗賢), a witness in the case, whose father is the chairman of Nan Ren Hu Entertainment Co.

Ku said that the ruling was premature, adding that as the former minister's legal representative, he cannot accept the court's decision, and neither can society.

Li added that the witness' testimony was inconsistent, insisting that the Supreme Court's reliance on it was unfair.

Kuo said that she had been working as a civil servant for decades and that she is well-known for being honest. “If I am a person who accepts bribes, people will talk. So far, there haven't been any rumors like that,” the ex-minister said, adding that she will try all means to clear her name.

According to Li, Kuo can request that prosecutors inspect the witness' testimony once more to see whether or not it is false; furthermore, Kuo can file an extraordinary appeal on the basis of factual mistakes and legal errors.

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