Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming (黃世銘) yesterday announced he would step down after the Taipei District Court hours earlier found him guilty and sentenced him to 14 months in prison for leaking confidential information to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) about a controversial probe into claims of influence peddling last year.
Taipei District Court spokesperson Lai Chien-yi (賴劍毅) told a press conference that Huang was charged with three counts of violating the Communication Security and Surveillance Act (通訊保障及監察法) and leaking classified information in violation of the Criminal Code, and that the district court had applied the heavier punishment — under the Communication Security and Surveillance Act — to convict Huang.
Lai said Huang was sentenced to five months, five months and six months respectively for the three violations, and that he would have to serve one year and two months in prison.
Huang is the first prosecutor-general to be indicted and convicted in the nation’s history.
He can appeal the ruling to the Taiwan High Court or pay a fine of NT$420,000 instead of serving the sentence.
Lai said Huang knew an investigation into allegations that funds were embezzled from Formosa Telecom Investment Co (全民電通) was still ongoing, but he broke the law when he briefed Ma on Aug. 31 last year. He gave Ma information gathered through a wiretap that Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) had spoken with then-minister of justice Tseng Yung-fu (曾勇夫) and Taiwan High Prosecutors’ Office Head Prosecutor Chen Shou-huang (陳守煌) in an attempt to dissuade a Taiwan High Prosecutors’ Office prosecutor from seeking an appeal in a breach of trust case against Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘).
Huang also provided Ma a written report on the investigation on that night, he added.
On Sept. 4, Huang also briefed Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) on the probe and provided him with a similar written report, Lai said.
The Special Investigation Division (SID) then held a press conference on Sept. 6 under Huang’s direction, where the SID released the tapped telephone conversations to the media, Lai said.
The court said that Huang had illegally leaked confidential information on three occasions.
Huang yesterday afternoon proclaimed his innocence and said in a statement that he felt deep regret about the ruling.
He said it was hard to believe that influence peddlers had not been punished, “while the people who uncovered the scandal were seriously punished.”
He added that he had made every effort to prevent politics from interfering in the judiciary.
Huang said he intended to keep his promise that he would resign if convicted in the first trial.
Deputy Minister of Justice Chen Ming-tang (陳明堂) said the ministry respected the district court’s ruling and Huang’s decision to resign.
Additional reporting by AFP