by Staff Writers
Taipei (AFP) Dec 25, 2012
A former Taiwan fire chief hailed as a hero for leading rescue efforts during a deadly typhoon has been indicted in a $690,000 corruption case and faces life in jail, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Huang Chi-min won widespread praise after he supervised rescue efforts for 14 days in a row when Typhoon Morakot hit the island three years ago, leaving more than 600 people dead.
But the man who headed the national fire agency until 2009 was arrested in August accused of favouring several unidentified firms in contracts.
On Tuesday, prosecutors said he had been charged with taking nearly Tw$20 million in bribes in the purchase of rescue and disaster relief equipment.
He is accused of taking the money from several companies to help them secure procurement contracts with the agency, the Taipei district prosecutors' office said in a statement.
"We seek life imprisonment since Huang shows no remorse for the serious crime he committed. His actions severely damaged the ethics of government officials," the office said in a statement.
Huang, who is in custody, denies the charges against him.
Twelve others, including Huang's brother, were also indicted for their involvement in the case.
According to investigators, the firms made profits of more than Tw$100 million from the government contracts, while some of the equipment bought under Huang's orders was reportedly faulty.
Taiwan has been rocked by a string of high-profile corruption cases involving top officials, prompting the government to set up a special anti-corruption body last year.
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