Wed, Jan 08, 2014 - Page 1 News List

Top prosecutor escapes impeachment

SPLIT DECISION:An impeachment requires a clear majority to pass, but the votes were divided 6-6. Huang Shih-ming cannot be impeached again on the same charges

By Chen Ching-min and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer and CNA

Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming (黃世銘) can rest easy now after the Control Yuan yesterday failed again to impeach him over his role in the “September strife” scandal sparked by efforts to oust Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and therefore his at-large legislative seat.

After reportedly intense discussions, 12 Control Yuan members voted 6-6 in a closed-door meeting on an impeachment motion against the prosecutor-general.

Control Yuan probe committee members Hung Te-hsuan (洪德旋) and Wu Feng-shan (吳豐山) submitted the motion shortly after their first impeachment motion was voted down on Nov. 28 last year by a 5-5 decision.

Control Yuan regulations stipulate that an impeachment vote requires a clear majority to be passed and a tie amounts to the defeat of the motion.

An impeachment motion also cannot be initiated against an official on the same charges more than twice.

The Control Yuan met on Dec. 10 and Dec. 19 last year to try to bring the motion to a vote. The first meeting was adjourned because there was not a quorum, while members refused to vote on the motion during the second meeting because they said the motion’s investigative report was incomplete.

The motion stems from allegations that Huang leaked classified information about an ongoing investigation by briefing President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 last year on the Special Investigation Division (SID) probe into allegations of improper lobbying by Wang.

Huang also allegedly showed Ma the transcript of a telephone conversation between Wang and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) that came from a wiretap.

Reports that the division had tapped Ker’s telephones triggered a scandal following revelations that the legislature’s switchboard had also been bugged in the process.

Huang previously promised to step down before his term expires in April should he be impeached by the Control Yuan or found guilty of leaking classified information in the first trial of a case brought against him by the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office on Nov. 1.

After wrapping up a two-month investigation, the Ministry of Justice Prosecutors’ Evaluation Committee on Dec. 14 recommended that Huang be dismissed for leaking information to Ma.

However, since it usually takes six months for a verdict to be handed down in the first trial of a case, which, along with the failure of the impeachment motion, could mean Huang would be able to complete his term.

While DPP lawmakers were sharply critical of the Control Yuan after yesterday’s vote, KMT legislators were divided on the result.

The public has lost faith in the Control Yuan, which has apparently forgotten its constitutional duties and its reason for existence, DPP Legislator Wu Ping-jui (吳秉叡) said.

DPP Legislator Wu Yi-chen (吳宜臻) said the result was unexpected, particularly given that Huang’s alleged wrongdoings had also been “confirmed” by the ministry’s “neutral” committee.

“Vetoing the motion is tantamount to being an accomplice to Huang. We may as well dissolve the Control Yuan,” she said, urging the government to revise the threshold for impeachment of officials.

KMT caucus whip Lin Te-fu (林德福) said he respected the vote, adding that there was no point impeaching Huang, given he only had three months left in the job.

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