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Court reconsiders bail for Keelung speaker
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-06-21 02:33 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – For the second time in a week, the Taiwan High Court on Saturday approved a request from prosecutors to reconsider bail for Keelung City Council speaker Huang Ching-tai amid an alleged corruption scandal.

Raids on his office turned up NT$5 million (US$166,000) in New Taiwan dollar and Chinese yuan. Huang claimed the cash was a campaign contribution, but prosecutors suspected he had received funds from construction groups in return for pressuring city government officials to go slow on rooting out illegally built structures in the harbor town.

On Thursday, the Keelung District Court rejected a demand from prosecutors to have the politician detained and set bail at NT$1.2 million (US$40,000). The Taiwan High Court approved an appeal from prosecutors and sent the case back to the District Court, but instead of ruling in favor of detention, it raised Huang’s bail to NT$2 million (US$66,600) Friday.

Saturday’s decision by the High Court to restart a review of the bail verdict was the result of another appeal by prosecutors. The Keelung District Court was expected to start hearing the case for and against detention for a third time later Saturday.

Prosecutors have argued that Huang poses a flight risk and could also collude with other suspects. The speaker, who is also the ruling Kuomintang’s candidate for mayor of Keelung in the November 29 election, insists he has explained everything and will be proven innocent.

As long as Huang has not been ordered detained, the KMT apparently refuses to take disciplinary measures or to start looking for another mayoral candidate. Prominent lawmakers and former government officials mentioned as potential candidates several months ago said they were not interested.

Prosecutors began their raids in connection with the case at city government departments before turning their attention to Huang. A senior official at the JSL Group, a prominent construction and real estate company, was also interrogated about the allegations.

The Keelung scandal follows allegations against former Taoyuan County Vice Magistrate Ye Shi-wen and Farglory Group Chairman Chao Teng-hsiung. Both scandals involving allegations of corrupt links between KMT officials and construction groups have damaged the ruling party’s image in an already difficult race for the November regional and local elections.

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