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In Brief

In Brief

Entertainer denies cheating at mahjong

Well-known TV variety show host Hu Gua (胡瓜) yesterday denied running a casino or cheating other people, while testifying at the Taipei District Court in fraud case brought against him by a mother and daughter who allegedly lost a lot of money while gambling with him.

The two plaintiffs, Cho Chin-feng and Chen Ching-ching, produced what they said was evidence at a court hearing to prove that Hu and his brother installed electronic devices and fixed games to cheat people who played at their residence. Cho claimed that she lost over NT$30 million in one month while playing mahjong with the two brothers at their casino.

Hu's brother, Hu Chih-chiang, went to China after the media broke the report about their casino. The prosecutor assigned to the case said he may issue a warrant for Hu's arrest if he continues to ignore the summons to testy.

Holiday weather

The Central Weather Bureau is forecasting warm and humid weather in the first three days of the Lunar New Year holiday that starts on Saturday.

The highs in would be above 20 degrees Celsius in northern Taiwan, 23 degrees in central Taiwan and 25 degrees in southern Taiwan, according to the CWB. Occasional rains are expected in some areas during the holiday.

However, weathermen also warned drivers of poor visibility on freeways because of heavy fog in the mornings.

Chen appears in court

A former deputy secretary-general and national policy adviser to President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) appeared in court to face charges yesterday of malfeasance and insider trading.

Chen Che-nan (陳哲男) refused to answer reporters' questions before entering the Taipei District Court. Chen and a Presidential Office accountant, Kao Shen-shen, have been investigated for buying and selling stocks when they served as presidential staff.

Kao reportedly told investigators that she placed orders on Chen's instructions and claimed she did not know that such behavior could be called insider trading or whether Chen had profited from such trading.

Bird flu alert

Taiwanese authorities said yesterday they had discovered a less virulent strain of bird flu in the south of the island and called on poultry farmers to step up precautionary measures.

The H7N3 strain of the virus was found in a sample of bird droppings taken Tuesday from wetlands in southern Chiayi county, the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine said in a statement.

Alarmed officials immediately asked the local government to put up signs warning people to stay away from the wetlands area.