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Taiwan court rejects detention of 2 baseball scam suspects

Taiwan court rejects detention of 2 baseball scam suspects
Taiwan court rejects detention of 2 baseball scam suspects

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Banciao District Court rejected a request from prosecutors early Thursday to detain two baseball players suspected of involvement in a game-fixing ring.
Investigators wanted Brother Elephants team members Wang Ching-li and Wu Bau-hsien in custody because of fears they could collude with witnesses and suspects, but the court reportedly judged there was no such risk.
According to media reports, the two men had made full confessions and possibly named other suspects in the conspiracy.
Wang and Wu were on a list of eight players listed as defendants during long interrogations Wednesday. Former Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Tsao Chin-hui and former Seibu Lions pitcher Chang Chih-chia were among the defendants, but they were allowed to return home after the questioning. Both stars emphatically proclaimed their innocence to reporters.
On Thursday afternoon, a second wave of interrogations began, all targeting players for the Brother Elephants. Apart from Lee Hau-jen who had already been questioned on Wednesday, the new roster included pitcher Mai Chia-juei, fielders Chu Hung-sen and Huang Cheng-wei, and catcher Kuo Yi-feng. All were listed as defendants, reports said, and were confronted with one of the six alleged ring leaders detained Monday, when the scandal broke.
Media earlier reported a new wave of interrogations might focus on trainers rather than on players.
Tsao, who enjoys widespread popularity as the first Taiwanese to have played Major League Baseball in the United States, at first denied he had anything to do with the case, but later he admitted he had attended at least six meals with the alleged ring leaders, reports said. They offered Tsao NT$3 million to fake his baseball performance, according to media reports.
Together with the other defendants, he was banned from leaving the country, but media reports speculated he might leave the Elephants and return to the United States.
Chang traveled to the dorm of his present team, the La New Bears, in Kaohsiung after questioning Wednesday, but was allowed leave from practices Thursday.
The players allegedly involved in the game-fixing scandal accepted money, reportedly between NT$100,000 and NT$300,000 per person per game, and sex in return for playing according to the ring’s wishes. Previous scandals often involved organized crime gangs threatening players and their families with violence.
The current controversy has hit the Brother Elephants especially hard. Former pitcher Chuang Hung-liang, one of the suspects detained on Monday, reportedly accused ten Elephants of having accepted money from the gambling syndicate, casting doubt on the team’s future.
Team officials who originally lashed out at prosecutors for searching players’ homes without evidence now reportedly admitted it was possible they would let Tsao resign. The Elephants, a team created by a hotel in Taipei, was one of only four still left in the Chinese Professional Baseball League after four previous scandals and financial problems.
The other teams still left are the La New Bears, the Sinon Bulls and the Uni-President Lions, who won the Taiwanese championships for the third year in a row last Sunday and who are the only CPBL team to come off completely unscathed so far in the scandal.
Last year, the league lost the dmedia T-Rex, which was disbanded after involvement in game-fixing.
CPBL Secretary-General Lee Wen-pin said he was open-minded about what should happen next, and the league would still prepare for the next season. Players who were convicted, would be expelled, he said, but it was too early to tell what would happen to the teams.
Lee described the current scandal as more than just a baseball problem, since it affected all of society. The government should intervene and make sure organized crime could no longer use threats and money to influence baseball, Lee said.
The Cabinet-level Sports Affairs Council said it would discuss the scandal in a meeting on November 3.
The baseball scandal also caused political reverberations at the Legislative Yuan. Opposition Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Chiu Yi-ying accused Tainan County Council Speaker Wu Chien-pao, a member of the ruling Kuomintang, of involvement in the gambling ring.
Wu denied the allegations, saying Chiu should come up with evidence or retract her statements.

Updated : 2021-06-21 06:01 GMT+08:00