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Taiwan ex-transportation minister prepares hunger strike
Kuo requests retrial after 8-year prison sentence
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-12-24 02:43 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Former Transportation Minister Kuo Yao-chi said she would start a hunger strike on the day she entered prison if the request for a retrial she filed Tuesday against the eight-year prison sentence for alleged corruption failed.

The Supreme Court confirmed the prison term on December 5 in a case which alleged Kuo accepted US$20,000 (NT$600,000) from a bidder for projects at the Taipei Railway Station in 2006. The former minister vigorously denied the charges, saying she never accepted money from the bidder and his son, whose allegations formed a key element of the prosecution.

Kuo visited the Taiwan High Court Tuesday morning accompanied by her attorney Lee Yung-jan to hand in a request for a new trial review.

She said her application was her ultimate effort to receive justice in the case. If there was no way she could receive justice using normal procedures, the day she entered prison would be the start of a hunger strike in protest, she told reporters.

The verdict was clearly wrong because there was no evidence that Kuo ever received US$20,000, Lee said. New evidence which had turned up since the trial proved there was no money, so a new trial should find her not guilty, according to the attorney.

He also supported Kuo’s argument that the testimonies delivered by Lee Tsung-hsien, the son of the businessman who allegedly bribed her, showed numerous contradictions. On December 12, Kuo filed a suit against him for perjury at the Taipei District Prosecutors Office.

If perjury had led to the prison sentence for Kuo, there were grounds enough for a retrial, her attorney said.

According to prosecutors, the Nan Ren Hu Group wanted to bid for a contract involving new shops and businesses on three floors at the Taipei station in 2006. The group’s chairman, Lee Ching-po, was reportedly an old acquaintance of Kuo. He asked her for help on the bid, while after he learned that the minister’s son faced high expenses as a student overseas, he ordered his own son, Lee Tsung-hsien, to put the money in the tea box and give it to Kuo as a present, prosecutors said.

She ordered the Taiwan Railway Administration to revise details for the tender twice, prosecutors alleged.

When investigators raided her home, they only found the box but no money inside. Lee and his son admitted having given the money, but said it was just a present to an old friend. They were not charged. Kuo denied ever having received any money from the duo.

Working its way through the court system, the case met with several reversals before ending in an eight-year prison sentence earlier this month.

Kuo was close to former President Chen Shui-bian, who is serving a 20-year prison sentence on corruption-related charges. She won the full support of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party in her campaign to win a retrial.

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