Thu, Aug 11, 2016 - Page 1 News List

Justice minister ready to back abolition of SID

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

A mannequin and a placard reading “Abolish the Special Investigation Division” are displayed in front of the Control Yuan in Taipei on Sept. 16, 2013, during a protest by the Judicial Reform Foundation.

Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times

The minister of justice could be ready to abolish the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office’s Special Investigation Division (SID), which has been embroiled in a number of high-profile controversies, and the move might come later this year if the law is changed.

Minister of Justice Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) appears to have given his blessing when he responded to a written statement by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Yu-yi (蔡易餘), who demanded that the SID be scrapped for political interference and a lack of checks and balances to guard against abuse of its investigative powers.

The Ministry of Justice gave Tsai a written reply, in which it recommended that the Legislative Yuan scrap Article 63, Item 1 of the Organic Act of Courts (法院組織法), which was the legal basis for the SID’s establishment in 2007.

Tsai yesterday confirmed that he had received the statement and said he had initiated the amendment and gathered support from fellow DPP legislators.

“We will request that the DPP legislative caucus make this amendment a priority for deliberation at the upcoming legislative session starting next month. If this is done, we could get it through a third reading by October at the earliest,” Tsai told reporters.

However, Deputy Minister of Justice Chen Ming-tang (陳明堂) said Chiu was responding to questions by a legislator by providing his opinion and analysis, rather than announcing an official decision.

“The ministry is handling this issue very carefully, and we are reviewing all aspects of consideration regarding the SID. We have not made any equivocal decision on the future of the SID,” Chen said.

Prosecutor-General Yen Ta-ho (顏大和) and SID spokesman Kuo Wen-tung (郭文東) said they had no opinion on the matter.

The SID was set up to investigate corruption and major crimes by high-level government officials, such as the corruption probe against former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), and has been involved in several controversial cases, such as the wiretapping of telephone conversations between then-legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘).

“The SID was subverted by then-president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to allow him to politically manipulate the judiciary. It has been embroiled in too many cases that had political motives in its selective prosecution. The public has lost trust in this body, and therefore it is time to abolish it,” Tsai said.

Legal experts have criticized the SID and called for the abolition of the body, saying it is illegitimate, unconstitutional and creates problems for the prosecutorial system.

“The SID has failed to accomplish its mission of probing corruption cases involving high-ranking government officials,” lawyer Cheng Wen-lung (鄭文龍) said. “It chose to selectively prosecute ex-president Chen and officials in past DPP administrations.”

Cheng said the SID is a malfunctioning body, that it infringes on the Constitution and that it has been used as a tool by politicians to pursue their political agenda.

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