Lee Teng-hui Indicted

Former Taiwanese president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) was indicted on Thursday,

on charges of embezzling state funds during his tenure in office from 1988 through 2000,

reports Focus Taiwan, quoting the Special Investigation Division (SID) under the Supreme Prosecutors Office. The amount in question is 7.8 million USD, from a secret account for national security. The SID allegations is worded in ways a judge might use when explaining a verdict, but the BBC’s Chinese website notes that the investigators are asking for an appropriate punishment (适当之刑), in the light of the former president’s advanced age and the contributions he had made to the country (但在具体量刑上称,念及李登辉已年迈并对国家贡献,而请求法官量处“适当之刑”).

The BBC describes the  secret “state security” fund as a heritage from the KMT’s dictatorship over Taiwan. Lee, a Taiwanese-born KMT member, was democratically elected as president in 1996. He had served as a president appointed by the KMT prior to the elections.

Lee is highly critical of incumbent president Ma Ying-jeou‘s (KMT) performance, but it has also appeared as if Ma wasn’t particularly interested in seeing Lee indicted or a verdict brought against him.

My spontaneous reaction: if Lee should get into serious legal trouble, he may be prepared to share much of his inside knowledge about the KMT’s history. I’m wondering if the SID’s call for an appropriate sentence that would take the defendant’s achievements into account, too, is actually taking the KMT’s political interests into account. Lee is apparently no longer a KMT member, but certainly an insider.

Presidential and legislative elections are scheduled for January next year.

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