Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-11-01 03:08 PM
On August 31, the nation’s top prosecutor requested a meeting with Ma at the latter’s official residence to tell him about allegations of influence peddling against Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng on behalf of top opposition lawmaker Ker Chien-ming. The incident grew into a major power struggle between Ma and Wang and into a scandal about the use of wiretaps against lawmakers.
The Taipei District Prosecutors Office said Friday that since the investigation against Wang was not wrapped up until September 5 and wiretaps were still being used in the case at the time, it was clear that Huang had violated the confidentiality of a judicial case by meeting with Ma on August 31 and again on September 1 after a request by the president for more information. There were also phone calls between the two in the following days, but the precise content was not known, reports said.
If found guilty of violations of the Criminal Code and the Communication Security and Surveillance Act, Huang could face up to three years in prison. He is the first-ever prosecutor-general to be indicted.
After the indictment was announced, Huang issued a statement saying that if the district court found him guilty, he would resign immediately. “I’ve had absolute confidence since the beginning that I can withstand the test in those accusations of leaking secret information,” he said in his statement.
Huang said he felt sorry that prosecutors had given in to pressure and charged him, but he hoped that the court would soon reach the right verdict and pronounce him not guilty.
The opposition Democratic Progressive Party welcomed the indictments but said prosecutors should also gather the courage to investigate if the president was an accomplice. The precise role that Ma played in the incident should be determined, said DPP lawmaker Lawrence Kao, though he would only face judicial action once he left office in May 2016.
DPP legislator Wu Yi-chen faulted prosecutors for failing to bring charges against Huang for the wiretaps on the Legislative Yuan and for believing the Ministry of Justice explanation that the eavesdropping had been accidental and unintentional. She said she would invite the top prosecutor to the Legislative Yuan to answer questions on November 4 at the earliest. Huang refused previous invitations to face questions over his legal problems.
Even legislators from the ruling Kuomintang echoed criticism of Huang. Since it was clear he had revealed confidential information from the investigation, it was unavoidable that he was charged, said KMT lawmaker Lu Hsueh-chang. The indictment was a warning to all members of the judiciary that they could not play around with the law, according to KMT legislator Liao Cheng-ching.
The Presidential Office and the Executive Yuan said they would respect the judiciary.
Wang, who became the target of efforts by Ma to unseat him after the case became public, said he believed in the judiciary and would respect its decisions.
The Ministry of Justice said Friday’s indictment concerned minor crimes so, according to the Judges Act, there was no need to suspend him from office.
After the meetings and talks between Ma and Huang, the Supreme Prosecutors Office Special Investigation Division (SID) made the allegations of illegal lobbying by Wang and Ker public at a news conference on September 6, while the legislative speaker was overseas.
Ma launched an effort to revoke Wang’s membership of the KMT, which would automatically end his legislative career, but the courts agreed with an injunction, leading to Wang staying on so far.
Prosecutors interviewed Huang, Ma, Premier Jiang Yi-huah and then-presidential aide Lo Chih-chiang about the case. After his first meeting with Huang, Ma had called in Jiang and Lo to discuss the case.
Wang was accused of having phoned Justice Minister Tseng Yung-fu in order to see whether prosecutors could refrain from filing an appeal against a not-guilty verdict for Ker in an embezzlement-related case. Wang later called the opposition lawmaker to tell him everything was alright. The conversations were bugged by the SID, which started another scandal about the excessive and undisciplined use of wiretaps by investigators.
Tseng was forced to resign the day the influence-peddling accusations were made public.
The Taipei Prosecutors Office said Friday it was opening a case to see whether SID spokesman Yang Jung-tsung had violated the Communication Security and Surveillance Act by revealing the information at his September 6 news conference.