Court finds majority of principals in school bribery case guilty
Central News Agency
2014-05-16 11:39 PM
Taipei, May 16 (CNA) Over 30 former public elementary school principals in New Taipei City were found guilty of taking bribes from school lunch suppliers Friday. According to the New Taipei District Court's statement on the ruling, 32 of the 36 former principals involved in the bribery case were found guilty. Some of the defendants had been removed from their post following the indictment, while others have retired. Among the 32 principals who were found guilty, eight received suspended sentences and will face a fine because they confessed to the bribery charge and returned the bribe money.

One was found guilty of leaking secrets -- allegedly revealing information to a school lunch supplier to help it win the contract. Eleven other defendants admitted taking the money and returned the gain, but denied the connection between the money and the catering companies winning the contracts. They were sentenced to 20 months to six years in prison. Another 12 defendants denied the charges and were given a prison term of seven years and four months to 10 years and six months. One of the 12 defendants who faced a heavy sentence, Yeh Chen-yi, was given eight years and 10 months in prison. He said he will appeal the court decision, arguing there was not enough evidence to support the ruling. Chen Mu-cheng, a retired principal who set up an online forum on the case, said the court ruling was the biggest disaster in the history of education. Chen said he believed the claim made by some principals that the funds they took were donated by catering companies to support schools' finances. In fact, the court did point out in its decision that two of the four principals were found not guilty because of lack of evidence. They had also used the fund donated by cater companies to sponsor school sport teams. Director-general Hsueh Chun-kuang of the Secondary and Elementary School Principals Association of the Republic of China said the judges should decide each case by checking whether the money was used for school affairs. The case caught public attention after a series of searches conducted by prosecutors that began in October 2011, and a total of 78 people, including school officials, people involved in the bidding process, and catering company owners and employees, were indicted. The New Taipei City Education Bureau said school principals and officials found guilty will remain suspended, pending a decision from the Public Functionary Disciplinary Sanction Commission, under the Judicial Yuan, on what disciplinary action should be taken.

The four innocent principals will be able to return to their teaching jobs, the bureau added. (By Wang Hung-kuo and Kay Liu)

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