Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-11-02 03:05 PM
The Taipei District Prosecutors Office on Friday charged Huang with violating the Criminal Code and the Communication Security and Surveillance Act by having released confidential information about a political influence-peddling investigation to Ma, but it did not indict him for illegally bugging a Legislative Yuan switchboard.
The opposition was also upset that Ma did not face any tougher questions about his role in the affair and about the Ministry of Justice stance that Huang did not need to resign immediately because he was only being investigated for minor crimes.
Revealing non-military secrets was still a crime, so despite his current immunity, Ma could still face an investigation once he left office in 2016, said Koo, a contender to represent the DPP in next year’s Taipei City mayoral election. The only condition was that the time that had elapsed would not go beyond the statue of limitations, he said.
For the time being, it was only possible for prosecutors and judges to question Ma as a witness, but after he finished his second and final term in 2016, they could reopen the investigation, Koo said.
He added that when Ma and Huang met on August 31, there was a possibility that Huang had fooled the president into believing that the investigation into influence peddling had already been completed, in which case no laws might have been violated.
However, if Ma had received the full details and heard that the investigation was not over yet, his subsequent meeting with Premier Jiang Yi-huah and then-aide Lo Chih-chiang could open the president to charges of revealing confidential information himself, Koo said.
Another potential Taipei City mayoral candidate, traumatologist Ko Wen-je, said Taiwan’s biggest national crisis was a loss of faith in the impartiality of the judiciary. Ma’s use of prosecutors as a political instrument to launch a power struggle against Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng had damaged the judiciary’s credibility with the public, Ko said.
Charging Huang was only the first step in the judicial process, Tsai said in an online post Saturday. The case was much bigger than that just leaking confidential information, because it only touched on the abuse of power and on illegal wiretaps, she said.
Huang should consider his place in the structure of the judiciary and voluntarily tender his resignation, Tsai said, adding that the MOJ should also understand the seriousness of the whole case and at least suspend him while the investigation and the judiciary process ran its course.
In a statement after Friday’s announcements of the indictments, the top prosecutor said he would only resign if the district court found him guilty.
In a separate investigation, the MOJ Prosecutorial Review Committee was reportedly considering interviewing the president. Ma also answered questions from the Taipei District Prosecutors Office on October 3, handing over the report he received from Huang which contributed to the indictments, reports said.
Committee spokesman Peng Wen-cheng said they would interview whoever needed to be interviewed for the investigation, but if anybody felt they had a contribution to make, he would also be welcome to help out.
DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang said that once he left the presidency in May 2016, Ma should also be called to answer for his role in the affair. Prosecutors said that since he was the person being leaked to by Huang, he had no liability. It was therefore unlikely that Ma would be prosecuted for receiving information from the top prosecutor, reports said.
Huang called Ma on August 31 to request a meeting at the latter’s official residence. During the encounter, Huang told the president that wiretaps had revealed that Legislative Speaker Wang had tried to use his influence to persuade prosecutors not to file an appeal against a not-guilty verdict for DPP legislative caucus leader Ker Chien-ming.
After Huang left, Ma called in Premier Jiang Yi-huah and then-aide Lo Chih-chiang to discuss the case with them. The following day, he called Huang back to receive more details about the allegations. Since the investigation of Wang and Ker did not end until September 5, it was obvious that Huang’s discussions with Ma violated the confidentiality of the judicial process, prosecutors said Friday.
The prosecutor-general could be convicted to three years in prison if found guilty, reports said.
The DPP compared Huang’s reluctance to leave office with Justice Minister Tseng Yung-fu, who resigned on September 6, the day the allegations of illegal lobbying were made public.
Huang received support from Lo and from Taiwan’s representative in the United States, King Pu-tsung, a long-term close confidant of the president.