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FORMER NAVY CAPTAIN GIVES TESTIMONY IN EMBEZZLEMENT TRIAL

2004-03-01 21:14:09

    Taipei, March 1 (CNA) A former navy captain who was involved in the death of the former chief of the navy's arms procurement department, Captain Yin Ching-feng, appeared at a local court Monday to give testimony in the trial of a former coworker accused of stealing public funds while working at Navy General Headquarters in 1992.

    Kuo Li-heng, who is a suspect in the death of Yin in 1993, is already serving a life sentence for corruption in another case.

    He was brought from jail to appear at the Taipei District Court as a witness in the trial of former Commander Yuan You-fan, who is accused of siphoning off the interest on funds earmarked for the country's purchases of four minesweepers from Germany in 1992.

    Yuan claimed that his confession used by prosecutors as evidence against him in the case was dictated to him by Kuo during the navy's own investigation in 1992.

    Kuo, however rebutted Yuan's claims.

    The navy commander-in-chief at the time, Adm. Ye Chang-tong, was also indicted for trying to cover up Yuan's crime.

    Instead of bringing Yuan to justice, Ye took advise from his subordinates and forced him to retire in 1992, said the prosecutors.

    Ye argued that Yuan's trial would have exposed the country's secret purchase of the four minesweepers and might have ruined the deal as two of the four minesweepers were still being built in Germany.

    Ye noted that Iraq invaded Kuwait at that time and that Germany was criticized by the United States for selling a pesticide plant to Iraq, which Washington claimed then used the plant to turn out poison gas. Under international pressure, Germany then tightened the restrictions on its arms exports in December 1990 and listed Taiwan as one of the countries to which it would not sell any weapons.

    In order to keep the deal secret, Ye said he decided to retire Yuan rather than get him court-martialled.

(By Maubo Chang)

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