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Kuo Li-heng free after 20 years for minesweeper scandal
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-12-17 02:08 PM
Former Navy Captain Kuo Li-heng, who was sentenced to life imprisonment by military authorities for his role in a procurement scandal involving French minesweepers, has been released from jail after serving almost 20 years behind bars. Kuo was transferred to Taipei prison in August and applied for a reduction in his sentence on the basis of the fact that he had not fled authorities. He was given a reduction in his sentence to 20 years and subsequently applied for a commutation of the sentence. The court could not agree to a commutation but granted a further reduction of 12 days in the sentence, and Kuo was released on December 3.

Described as one of the most important figures in the murder case of Navy Captain Yin Ching-feng in 1983, Kuo was taken into custody on December 18 of that year. He was originally held in Tainan’s Liu-jia Military Prison but transferred to Taipei Prison in August this year, where he finished out a total of 19 years, 11 months and 18 days behind bars. Prison officials described Kuo as one of the quietest inmates they have ever seen, keeping largely to himself and rarely speaking to other inmates.

Several bizarre and unexplained murders occurred after the Yin Ching-feng case became public, and the release of Kuo Li-heng may cause a few people to lose sleep over worries about their personal safety. Kuo was rumored to have stashed several hundred million US dollars in a Swiss bank account part of which was eventually remitted back to Taiwan, while the rest of the proceeds from an illegal commission on an arms deal are still unaccounted for

Kuo was convicted and sentenced on charges related to a minesweeper purchase, and in a trial related to the purchase of six Lafayette frigates was sentenced to fifteen years in prison. The Special Investigation Division appealed that ruling and the case is currently still being adjudicated in the Supreme Court.

Legal experts point out that when the Lafayette case is brought to settlement, amended laws will mean that punishment short of execution may not exceed 20 years in prison. As Kuo has already served nearly 20 years in the minesweeper case, the unresolved Lafayette trial holds little meaning for him.

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