Ma Ying-jeou, former chairman of the Kuomintang, the leading opposition party in Taiwan, appeared in court on Tuesday for the fourth hearing of his trial in which he is charged with misusing more than 11 million Taiwan dollars (US$330,000) in expense funds during his tenure as mayor of Taipei.
The judges checked the names of the witnesses put forward by the plaintiff and the defendant and adjourned the court until June 5. Ma pleaded not guilty to the charges in April.
In an interview with the media outside the courtroom, Ma reaffirmed his innocence and complained that his case was being moved along quicker than similar cases involving leaders of the ruling Democrat Progressive Party (DPP), which he said were moving at a "limited" speed.
Ma resigned as KMT chairman after the indictment but immediately declared that he would run for the 2008 Taiwan leader election.
The expense funds, also known as special allowance funds, are allocated by the Taiwan authorities to executive officers at various levels in Taiwan. Official receipts are only required for half the special allowance funds, while the spending of the other half only requires the signature of the official.
Regulations concerning the expenditure of government special allowances have never been clear. Lu Hsiu-lien, Su Tseng-chang, Hsieh Chang-ting and Yu Shyi-kun, major leaders of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), have all been found involved in similar cases, but prosecutors seem to be lying down on investigations.
(Xinhua News Agency May 23, 2007)