Switzerland to turn over documents relating to a corruption case after Taiwan guarantees death penalty cancellation

Switzerland's supreme court ruled on Wednesday that bank documents relating to a corruption case should now be turned over to Taiwan because the Taiwanese government has guaranteed it will not use the death penalty.

The Lausanne-based Federal Tribunal had ruled last year that Taiwan should have the documents, but later upheld an appeal from the family of former arms dealer Wang Chuan-pu that previous assurances from Taiwan that it would not invoke the death penalty were nonbinding and had to be improved.

Since then, Taiwan's Premier Frank Hsieh has given new assurances and the court was satisfied that they were binding, enabling the transfer of the documents, the federal tribunal judgment said.

The case concerns allegations that the French firm Elf Aquitaine used kickbacks in the early 1990s to persuade French authorities to approve the sale of six frigates to Taiwan, and to encourage Taiwan to buy the warships in a deal worth US$2.5 billion, the AP reports.

The ships were delivered in 1991, and both Switzerland and Liechtenstein have blocked funds in accounts allegedly linked to the case.

The investigations began when Taiwanese authorities concluded from the inflated price that the deal constituted a serious case of international corruption. AM

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