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Police probe allegation of Ho buying judges

Prosecutor is looking into how the ex-lawmaker managed to disappear shortly before raids

Police probe allegation of Ho buying judges

Former Kuomintang lawmaker Ho Chi-hui was still missing yesterday amid questions over his disappearance just before prosecutors detained three judges and a prosecutor suspected of accepting bribes to find him not guilty of corruption.
The four men, Ho's secretary and one of the judges' woman acquaintances were locked up in solitary confinement on Wednesday on suspicion of having accepted a total of NT$8 million (US$249,000) from the former lawmaker.
Ho, who also served as Miaoli County Magistrate, was initially sentenced to 19 years in prison for corruption surrounding a land deal, but the Taiwan High Court overturned the verdict and found him not guilty last month.
Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming said the Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau was looking into how Ho managed to disappear shortly before raids on his office and other locations began early Tuesday morning. He expressed confidence in prosecutors based in Miaoli County despite reports which hinted they were responsible for leaking news of the imminent raids to Ho.
Huang denied reports that the timing of the raids had been suspicious. The searches were targeted at 34 locations, so investigators needed to wait until so many people were all present inside the country, he told reporters. "Originally, the raids had been planned to take place last week, but one of the targets was traveling overseas, so the whole operation had to be postponed," said the nation's top prosecutor.
The court had barred Ho from leaving the country because it reasoned he posed a flight risk. His wife, former KMT lawmaker Wang Su-chun, has been living in China for several years, reports said.
Judicial reformers earlier questioned whether the three detained judges were the only cases of corruption inside the court system. The reform campaigners also rejected allegations that a monthly salary of NT$180,000 (US$5,600) for judges was too low and therefore encouraged corruption.
The action groups demanded an urgent start to legislation introducing a review system for judges. The reviewers should include independent observers from outside the Judicial Yuan to safeguard the objectivity and impartiality of the review, the campaigners said.
The Judicial Yuan replied that a review system and the dismissal of unfit judges formed part of its priorities.
According to media reports, Ho paid the judges separately, sometimes through his secretary, who was an old acquaintance of one of the judges' close friends. On some occasions, Ho would drive to the Judicial Yuan's parking lot and pay High Court judge Tsai Kuang-chih there, reports said.
Tsai was also among 11 judges previously named as problematic by an internal review, said Judicial Yuan Secretary-General Hsieh Wen-ting. Reports described the ten other judges as "bombs waiting to explode."
Another of the three judges detained, Lee Chun-ti, was recorded by a surveillance camera leaving an underground parking lot carrying a paper bag he did not have with him when entering, reports said. The bag reportedly contained money from Ho handed to Lee by Chiu Mao-jung, a prosecutor who once served in Miaoli when Ho was magistrate in the county.
Media also reported that some of the accused owned considerable amounts of land and shares, hinting that those assets might have been the result of corruption.


Updated : 2021-07-31 14:44 GMT+08:00