Taiwan court clears Ma of corruption

Taipei, December 28:

Taiwan’s High Court cleared opposition leader and presidential favourite Ma Ying-jeou of corruption today in a high-profile ruling that frees him to stand in the March vote.

Ma, who is representing the Kuomintang (KMT) party, which favours closer ties with China, could have been barred from running for president if he had been convicted of the graft and breach of trust charges. He was accused of misusing $330,000 in so-called special expenses during his time as Taipei mayor from 1998 to 2006. A district court had cleared him in August, but prosecutors had appealed. Upholding the lower court ruling, chief judge Liu Ching-hsing said the court found “the defendant had no intention to swindle money using his position nor engage in fraudulent acts.”

“I feel calm, but I am not rejoicing over the High Court ruling,” Ma told a press conference afterwards.