Ma Ying-jeou blasts speaker of legislature for meddling in court cases

President calls incident 'most shameful day in the development of Taiwan's democracy'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 09 September, 2013, 5:07am

Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday blasted the speaker of the island's legislature for using his influence to meddle in the prosecution of a prominent opposition legislator involved in a breach of trust case.

In what appeared to be the prelude of one of the island's biggest political storms, Ma held a news conference yesterday condemning the speaker Wang Jin-pyng for influence peddling by helping Ker Chien-ming, a legislature caucus whip of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party shun an appeal to be filed by a prosecutor over the legal case.

Calling it the "most serious infringement of Taiwan judicial independence" and the "most shameful day in the development of Taiwan's democracy," Ma said the island would "descend into an endless downward spiral" if such an act was not dealt with in the most serious manner.

He said Wang telephoned him from abroad, saying he had never tried to meddle in the incident and what he did was only to soothe Ker who had complained to him that there was growing cases of prosecutors abusing power by making unnecessary appeals to cases already found not guilty.

Ker was first found guilty by the district court in the breach of trust case, but in June the high court found him not guilty. A prosecutor charged with handling the case later did not pursue further proceeding by filing an appeal against the high court's verdict in what special investigators alleged was the result of lobbying by Ker.

According to the investigators, Ker first sought help from Chen Shou-huang, head of the High Prosecutors Office, and then Wang, so that no more appeals would be filed.

Wang then asked Justice Minister Tseng Yung-fu for help and subsequently no more appeals were filed, the investigators said on Friday. Tseng later resigned after allegations that he was involved in the case.

"We all must ask ourselves whether we can allow political interference in judicial cases to become an everyday practice," Ma said in the brief news conference also attended by Vice President Wu Den-yih and Premier Jiang Yi-huah. Wang, who was at his daughter's wedding in Malaysia, was not in Taiwan.

Ma said the alleged influence peddling would have a "far-reaching effect" on Taiwan's democracy.