The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office said yesterday it planned to summon President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) as a witness in a probe into allegations that Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming (黃世銘) and the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office Special Investigation Division (SID) illegally monitored an opposition lawmaker’s telephone calls and leaked the content of the wiretaps to Ma.
Citing a gag order, Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office spokesman Huang Mo-hsin (黃謀信) said the office could not discuss its investigative process, while local media reported that the office had contacted the Presidential Office to ask when Ma would be available.
When asked for a response, Presidential Office spokesperson Lee Chia-fei (李佳霏) said the Presidential Office respects the judiciary, but would not comment because of the gag order.
At issue is the SID’s press conference on Sept. 6, during which prosecutors said that Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) had been involved in improper lobbying of then-minister of justice Tseng Yung-fu (曾勇夫) and Taiwan High Prosecutors’ Office Head Prosecutor Chen Shou-huang (陳守煌) at the request of Democratic Progressive Party caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘).
Ker allegedly asked Wang to use his influence to prevent prosecutors from appealing Ker’s June 18 acquittal by the Taiwan High Court in a breach of trust case.
Huang Shih-ming told a Sept. 9 press conference that he had gone to Ma’s residence to report on Wang’s involvement on Aug. 31, which was before the investigation had finished. He told a legislative session on Sept. 25 that Ma had asked him to visit his residence again on Sept. 1 to brief him on the details of the Wang case.
On Monday night, Huang Shih-ming told the Chinese-language Apple Daily that Ma had phoned him after the SID had held its Sept. 6 press conference, raising further questions about Ma’s role in pursuing the case.
The legislature’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee had earlier on Monday passed a motion to have the SID turn its active cases over to regular prosecutors and not open new cases.
Lee yesterday said that Ma had talked to Huang Shih-ming by telephone “several times” after the SID’s Sept. 6 press conference, but did not dictate what the prosecutor-general should do in the case.
Ma simply asked him to clear up doubts that had been raised over the case, Lee said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Justice Lo Ying-shay (羅瑩雪) said Ma telephoning Huang Shih-ming about the case was not evidence that Ma tried to improperly influence the prosecutor-general.
“It depended on what they had said over the phone. Just now, I called several people. Does that mean that I engaged in undue influence?” Lo said in response to a reporter’s question.
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