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Taiwanese prosecutors appeal acquittal of Ma Ying-jeou
2007-08-18 09:44:25 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

TAIPEI, Aug 18 (AP) -- Taiwanese opposition presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou said Saturday he was ready to face justice again after prosecutors launched an appeal against his acquittal on corruption charges.

"I'm not worried," Ma, a Harvard-educated lawyer, told supporters in Taipei. "We will be prepared and get ready for the court debates."

After a four-month trial, the Taipei District Court on Tuesday found Ma not guilty of diverting 11 million New Taiwan dollars (US$333,000) of public money into his private account while serving as mayor of Taipei between 1998 and 2006.

The former justice minister had consistently professed his innocence.

Prosecutors filed an appeal against the ruling with the high court on Friday.

Analysts say the high court likely will uphold the lower court's verdict. Even if the judges find Ma guilty, a verdict might not be announced before the March 2008 presidential poll to avoid creating upheaval by opposition supporters, they say.

Corruption charges against Ma would be dropped if he won the presidential election.

Opposition supporters have accused the ruling Democratic Progressive Party of pursuing the case to tarnish Ma's clean-cut image.

During his district court appearances, Ma maintained that one of the main charges against him -- using discretionary funds without providing detailed accounting -- had long been a common practice among Taiwanese municipal leaders and other government officials.

Rather than pocketing the funds he is accused of diverting, he said he used them to make donations to charity.

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