Sun, Apr 01, 2007 - Page 1 News List

MOJ stumped by prosecutors' rejection

MIXED REACTION The KMT lauded the prosecutors' rejection of new assignments while a DPP lawmaker said they were setting a bad example to their subordinates

By Rich Chang and Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTERS , WITH CNA

The Ministry of Justice will review its plan to reshuffle chief prosecutors nationwide on Wednesday after five new appointees refused to take up their new posts, a ranking ministry official said yesterday.

On Thursday the ministry announced that Kaohsiung District Prosecutors' Office chief Ling Po-chih (凌博志) and Taichung District Prosecutors' Office chief Chiang Hui-ming (江惠民) were to be transferred to the justice ministry. Three other chief prosecutors -- Ho Ming-chen (何明楨) of Yunlin, Liu Wei-tsung (劉維宗) of Taoyuan and Shih Ching-tang (施慶堂) of Miaoli -- were to take over as heads of the offices in Pingtung, Kaohsiung and Keelung respectively.

However, Ling, Chiang and Ho said on Friday they had refused the new job assignments, while Liu and Shih said they were thinking about not accepting the transfer.

The ministry yesterday said it would ask the Prosecutor's Personnel Review Committee to further discuss the planned reshuffle of dozens of chief prosecutors in district and high prosecutors offices.

Vice Minister of Justice Lee Chin-yung (李進勇) said at a press conference yesterday that a consensus on the reshuffle is required, admitting that there was a difference of opinion among committee members on whether proper consultations and procedures were followed in deciding the personnel changes.

Only six of the 17 members of the committee attended the meeting on Thursday, with a majority refusing to participate on the grounds that the proposed reshuffle smacked of political interference.

Opposition legislators have claimed that the reshuffle is politically motivated because the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government, dogged by an embezzlement case involving the first lady's alleged misuse of the president's "state affairs fund," is attempting to line up chief prosecutors whose legal opinions would favor her.

The passage of the list of personnel changes also drew criticism from the Prosecutors' Reform Association, which claimed in a statement that the reshuffle had severely harmed the independence of the prosecution system and called for the outgoing and designated chief prosecutors to refuse the switch before a legal procedure for the personnel adjustment has been completed.

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus yesterday voiced its support for the decision made by the five prosecutors-general.

By refusing the job transfers, these prosecutors-general were defending justice, KMT Legislator Hsu Shao-ping (徐少萍) said.

"We applaud these prosecutors who insisted on their stance [on the transfer]," KMT Legislator Pan Wei-kang (潘維剛) told reporters. "I think these prosecutors were showing their respect for the judicial system and trying to defend the dignity of prosecutors-general by insisting on holding a review of the transfers first."

When asked to comment on the matter, DPP Legislator Wang Shu-hui (王淑慧) said the ministry's decision on the personnel reshuffle was a result of the government's discontent with "prosecutors' failure to exercise their authority to combat corruption over the past few years."

She said it was reasonable to transfer prosecutors-general because police chiefs around the country also had to be transferred regularly, adding that those who refused the transfer set a bad example for their subordinates.

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