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Taiwan High Court upholds 10-year sentence for officer convicted of embezzling 900 masks

Convicted officer sold stolen masks to third party for profit of NT$8,000

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Li Chih-chau

Li Chih-chau (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Taiwan High Court on Wednesday (May 11) upheld a lower court’s 10-year sentence for a former lieutenant colonel convicted of stealing 900 masks in 2020.

In February 2020, Li Chih-chau (李志交), who formerly worked at the Taipei Reserve Command, was stationed at a medical-grade mask plant that was part of the "National Face Mask Team" to oversee the plant’s mask production and keep track of mask shipments, according to a CNA report.

Li conspired with his former subordinate Chang Cheng-yang (張政陽) to smuggle 900 masks out of the plant. Chang drove a car transporting the masks, which were then sold by Li to a third party for NT$8,000 (US$272).

The Taipei District Court held that Li hatched the plot after he found his investment in a steamed dumpling store was losing money, and he needed more capital.

He told Chang that he would give the masks to superiors as tributes and to friends as gifts, and Chang went along with Li’s request due to their friendship, according to the district court’s ruling.

Considering that Li had not pleaded guilty to the offense, the district court sentenced him to 10 years and two months in prison for stealing public property. The court sentenced Chang to one year and eight months behind bars but suspended the sentence and placed him on probation for three years.

Li appealed his sentence to the Taiwan High Court, which on Wednesday, overruled it and upheld the lower court’s sentence.

According to Article Four of Taiwan’s Anti-Corruption Act, stealing or misappropriating public equipment or property “shall be punished by imprisonment for life or a term of no less than 10 years and may also be punished by a fine not to exceed NT$100,000,000.”