Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-03-05 04:51 PM
The ruling could prove a landmark development in the power struggle between President Ma Ying-jeou and Wang which started last September when the Supreme Prosecutors Office Special Investigation Division (SID) accused the speaker of influence peddling with the judiciary on behalf of a top opposition lawmaker.
Ma immediately chose the side of the prosecutors, condemning Wang, who was attending his daughter’s wedding in Malaysia at the time, as unfit to serve as the top legislator. The KMT decided to strip Wang of his party membership, but the court approved a motion filed by his attorneys to allow him to remain a member until the verdict, now expected later this month.
In the latest session at the Taipei District Court Wednesday, Wang’s attorneys accused Ma of interfering in the Legislative Yuan and of violating the Constitution. The lawyers compared the speaker’s treatment at the hands of the KMT with previous cases against Ma, saying there had been a serious bias making the party’s decision to expel Wang illegal.
According to KMT rules, a member could only be expelled after at least the High Court had confirmed a guilty verdict from the district court, Wang’s attorneys said, emphasizing he was innocent of influence peddling.
The KMT lawyers countered that during the period that Wang served as party vice chairman, the party expelled 78 members and revoked the membership of more than 500 people, even without court verdicts. It was Wang’s intervention on behalf of Democratic Progressive Party chief whip Ker Chien-ming which had broken the balance between the different branches of government, the KMT attorneys said at Wednesday’s session.
Ker had been found not guilty in an embezzlement case, and had allegedly asked Wang to ask prosecutors not to file an appeal. Both men denied the SID allegations announced at a news conference on September 6.
In addition to the political power struggle within the KMT, the case also snowballed into allegations of illegal eavesdropping and abuses of power by the SID and by its supervisor, Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming.
A trial alleging Huang broke the confidentiality of the investigation into Wang by telling the president about it at an August 31 meeting is expected to reach a conclusion before the end of the top prosecutor’s official term in office next month.
Separate investigative bodies and the nation’s top watchdog, the Control Yuan, have also looked into Huang’s behavior, but attempts to impeach him failed due to tied votes.
He said earlier that he would only resign before the end of his four-year term next April if the Control Yuan impeached him or if the Taipei District Court found him guilty.
The top prosecutor said the conclusions of the investigation into Wang were already clear by the time he told Ma and therefore no laws were broken. The president later called in a key aide and Premier Jiang Yi-huah to tell them about the case surrounding the legislative speaker. It also came to light that the SID had tapped a telephone exchange at the Legislative Yuan.