(AFP) – Jan 8, 2008
TAIPEI (AFP) — Prosecutors in Taiwan on Wednesday appealed the acquittal of the opposition Kuomintang's presidential candidate, Ma Ying-jeou, on corruption charges.
Last month, the High Court cleared Ma -- the former mayor of Taipei and a former justice minister -- of corruption and breach of trust, on the grounds that he had not tried to obtain illegal benefits via his expense accounts.
But prosecutors say they hope the Supreme Court will make a definitive ruling on the decades-old system of allotting special funds to higher-ranking government officials -- a system which analysts say is full of loopholes.
"Hopefully we can obtain a unified legal interpretation of the dispute by taking the case to the Supreme Court," Chen Hung-ta, a spokesman for the prosecutors, told reporters.
Ma, who is running to replace President Chen Shui-bian in March presidential polls, stood accused of misusing more than 11 million Taiwan dollars (338,460 US dollars) in expense accounts during his 1998-2006 tenure as mayor.
He repeatedly insisted he was innocent, saying he had acted in exactly the same way as some 6,500 other government chiefs entitled to special expenses.
Judges at both the Taipei District Court and the High Court agreed with Ma, ruling that the expenses are the government's "subsidies" to ranking officials, and that Ma did not intend to misuse the funds.
Ma, reacting to the decision by the High Court prosecutors to appeal, said: "It is their right to appeal to the Supreme Court."
Following the High Court ruling, Ma last week filed a lawsuit against the prosecutors on charges that they had fabricated the evidence against him.
Ma, 57, chaired the Kuomintang party until February, when he resigned following his indictment.
He is running against Frank Hsieh of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party to succeed Chen, who is barred from standing as he has already served two four-year terms.
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