Taiwan's ex-leader Ma wins libel case against radio host

TAIPEI • Taiwan's former president Ma Ying-jeou, who has faced a string of lawsuits since stepping down last year, scored a legal victory yesterday in a defamation case against a commentator who claimed he took illicit donations.

Mr Ma filed the libel lawsuit in 2014 against radio show host Clara Chou for alleging that he accepted NT$200 million (S$9.2 million) from scandal-hit food giant Ting Hsin International Group in exchange for favours.

The High Court overturned a previous ruling of "not guilty" and convicted Chou of defaming the former president, as she "failed to thoroughly verify" the allegations before reporting them.

Mr Ma firmly rejected her accusations, saying his government fully investigated the company's alleged involvement in a number of food-safety scandals and indicted dozens of people.

The verdict, which requires Chou to either pay a fine of NT$50,000 or serve a 50-day prison sentence, is Mr Ma's second legal victory after a district court last month found him not guilty in a political leaks case.

But the former leader faces a new trial starting on Friday, after state prosecutors brought fresh leaks charges against him last month. Mr Ma has maintained his innocence and vowed to "fight to the end for justice".

Mr Ma is the third former president in Taiwan to be indicted on criminal charges.

His predecessor Chen Shui-bian was serving a 20-year sentence for corruption until he was freed on medical parole in 2015.

Mr Lee Teng-hui was charged with embezzling state funds during his presidency from 1988 to 2000, but was acquitted.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 12, 2017, with the headline 'Taiwan's ex-leader Ma wins libel case against radio host'. Print Edition | Subscribe