Keelung Council speaker ordered detained
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-09-05 06:03 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Keelung District Court on Friday ordered City Council Speaker Huang Ching-tai to be detained over allegations he embezzled NT$10 million (US$334,000).

Even in detention, he will still be able to run as an independent in the Keelung mayoral election on November 29. He was originally nominated by the ruling Kuomintang, but the party canceled its decision after wide protest.

It has since nominated former National Immigration Agency chief Hsieh Li-kung, who registered for the candidacy Friday. After the scandal surrounding Huang broke into the open, opposition Democratic Progressive Party candidate Lin Yu-chang took the lead in the opinion polls.

Huang stands accused of having embezzled more than NT$10 million in a public construction project to widen the harbor city’s Yuemei Road. He allegedly paid off city councilors and officials to approve the project, for which the city applied for subsidies. Previous attempts to have him detained were derailed as his attorneys succeeded in arguing that procedural mistakes had been made.

In order to avoid a repeat of the arguments, prosecutors in Keelung canceled their original detention application and filed a new one at 2:30 a.m. Friday. After a discussion which took two-and-a-half hours during the morning, the court ruled that there had been no illegalities in the detention procedure, and gave the green light to a new hearing about the need to detain Huang. The court concluded its procedure by 6:445 p.m., ruling in favor of the prosecutors’ request.

The accusations against the local politician are just one of several surrounding KMT mayors and candidates in the run-up to the November elections, which are a crucial test of popularity for the beleaguered ruling party led by President Ma Ying-jeou. The local and regional elections are also seen as the last major electoral event before voters pick Ma’s successor in early 2016.

Huang was first accused of corruption when a raid turned up NT$5 million (US$167,000) in cash at his office last June.

On August 20, a total of 18 Keelung city councilors were accused of having accepted bribes in a contract to widen a road. Council member Cheng Yi-hsin was detained a week after the raid. A council official, Chang Wei-chih, followed suit on August 29.

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