The Control Yuan yesterday took corrective measures against the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office over the conduct of two Special Investigation Panel (SIP) prosecutors involved in the legal cases against former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and his family.
SIP prosecutors Chu Chao-liang (朱朝亮) and Wu Wen-chung (吳文忠) violated the Prosecutors Code (檢察官守則) by having “private contact with Chen during the process of the investigation,” the Control Yuan said.
The Control Yuan asked that the two prosecutors be removed from all cases involving the former president.
Under Control Yuan regulations, the ministry has two months to comply.
Control Yuan member Li Ful-dien (李復甸) said the two investigators’ actions were “not permissible” under the code, which lays out the principles of ethics for prosecutors.
“The Control Yuan’s corrective measures have binding force on government agencies,” Li said.
If an agency does not comply within three months, the Control Yuan is authorized by the Control Yuan Act (監察法) to question personnel over the delay and impeach the agency head — in this case State Public Prosecutor-General Chen Tsung-ming (陳聰明) — Li said.
Chu and Wu’s impartiality in handling the investigation was called into question after Chang Wei-chin (張瑋津), a woman who said she was a good friend of Chen Shui-bian's, showed a photo of the two chatting with the former president on July 7 at a ceremony commemorating a Buddhist master in Miaoli County.
The Control Yuan said that Wu and Chu should have left the ceremony after seeing that Chen Shui-bian was there, but instead sat down and chatted with him.
The Control Yuan said that Chu had also communicated with the former president via Chang and Tseng Chin-yuan (曾勁元), a prosecutor with the Shilin District Prosecutors’ Office, and held two private telephone conversations with Chen in August.
Li said the ethics code bars prosecutors from privately contacting defendants, adding that the two prosecutors, Tseng and Chang, might have had ulterior motives. Their actions had damaged public confidence in prosecutors, he said.
The Control Yuan also said the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office had neglected to effectively supervise the SIP, as confidential information from the investigation into the former first family had repeatedly leaked to the press.
“Keeping investigations and their findings confidential is a basic principle prosecutors must abide by to carry out the essential standard that any accused should be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. The failure by the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office to prevent disclosure of such information should be condemned,” Li said.
Li dismissed potential criticism that the Control Yuan’s measures could constitute interference in the judicial system, saying the government body had the authority to take such measures under a consensus reached by the Executive Yuan, the Judicial Yuan and the Control Yuan in 1956.
In response, Chu and Wu said yesterday that they did not understand the Control Yuan’s decision to remove them from the Chen case.
“Control Yuan members never spoke to us. Furthermore, the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office carried out an internal investigation and found that there was no need for us to be removed from our jobs. I don’t understand why this request was made,” Wu said.
SIP spokesman Chen Yun-nan (陳雲南) held a press conference at 6:30pm in response to the Control Yuan’s announcement.