Taiwan's high court announced a verdict of "not guilty" on Friday for the second trial of former Kuomintang (KMT) party chairman Ma Ying-jeou in a special fund case.
Ma was accused of misusing more than 11 million New Taiwan dollars (US$330,000) for expense funds during his tenure as mayor of Taipei.
Ma's second trial began on Oct. 5, nearly two months after a lower court cleared him on Aug. 14. Prosecutors in Taipei then successfully appealed to the high court against Ma's acquittal.
The high court maintained the "not guilty" ruling of the first trial and also cleared Ma of the charges of breach of trust and fraud in Friday's verdict.
Analysts say that the verdict will have great impact on the 2008 Taiwan political elections because a conviction in the case could have sent Ma to prison and barred him from running as the KMT candidate.
In August 2006, legislators from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) accused Ma of misusing expense funds during his tenure as Taipei mayor. Ma resigned as chairman of the Chinese Kuomintang (KMT), Taiwan's leading opposition party, after being indicted on Feb. 13, but declared that he would run in the 2008 Taiwan political election.
The KMT endorsed Ma as its candidate on June 24. Ma has made Vincent Siew, a veteran economist, his running mate.
The expense funds, also known as special allowance funds, are allocated to executive officers by the Taiwan authorities. Official receipts are required for half of the funds. The spending of the other half only requires official's signature.
(Xinhua News Agency December 28, 2007)