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Taiwan opposition leader charged with corruption

[JURIST] The Taipei High Prosecutors Office [official website, English version] in Taiwan indicted Nationalist Party (KMT) [party website, in Chinese] leader Ma Ying-jeou [official website, in Chinese; Wikipedia profile] Tuesday on corruption charges. The allegations against Ma, who had been considered a top contender in the 2008 presidential elections, involve $333,000 taken from a city expense fund during his term as mayor of Taipei [official website, English version] during 2002 to 2006. Ma has denied that any of the funds were removed for his personal use and members of his opposition party have pointed out that such monies are often taken and used for legitimate reasons including paying bonuses to municipal workers.

The Harvard-trained lawyer resigned as KMT party chair after being indicted Tuesday, but said he would still run in the 2008 presidential elections if selected as the KMT candidate. The Chinese government in Beijing is believed to have supported Ma's potential candidacy as his party is in favor of unifying Taiwan and China [JURIST report]. Ma has been an outspoken opponent of current Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian [official website, English version; BBC profile], who, along with his family, has also been implicated in several corruption scandals [JURIST report]. AP has more. The Taipei Times has local coverage.

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