Sat, Jul 14, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Ma calls on prosecutors to make evidence public

‘PREPOSTEROUS’:The former president said that there was no way for him to foresee at the time that legislation regarding ill-gotten party assets would be passed in 2016

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Former president Ma Ying-jeou speaks to reporters at the National 228 Memorial Museum in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times

Former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday urged the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office to make public all the evidence it has against him, accusing the office of serving a political party.

In his first public appearance after the office on Tuesday indicted him over his handling of the sale of former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) assets while serving as party chairman, Ma was flanked by supporters as he arrived at the National 228 Memorial Museum for a visit to an exhibition reviewing the past 40 years of Taiwan-US ties.

As yesterday was Ma’s 68th birthday, his supporters wished him a happy birthday while cheering for him and chanting “judicial injustice.”

Before entering the museum, Ma delivered a 1,000-word statement professing his innocence, saying that the case had already been cleared of any irregularities in 2014 by the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office’s now-defunct Special Investigation Division after an eight-year probe.

“The Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] government reopened the case after taking office two years ago and I have now been indicted. Has this case has been tainted by political interference? I believe people’s eyes are sharp,” Ma said.

Prosecutors on Tuesday indicted Ma for breach of trust and contraventions of the Securities and Exchange Act (證券交易法) for his role in the KMT’s disposal of several party assets in 2005 and 2006, including Central Motion Picture Corp (中影), China Television Co (中視) and Broadcasting Corp of China (中廣).

Two figures involved in managing the KMT’s finances used an elaborate financial scheme, which Ma approved, to enable the sale of KMT media companies and other assets at prices below market value, prosecutors said.

The scheme caused the KMT to lose NT$7.29 billion (US$238.58 million at the current exchange rate) from the sale of the three media companies, as well as the party’s former headquarters in Taipei, the indictment said.

Amendments to the Broadcasting and Television Act (廣播電視法) passed in 2003 required the KMT to withdraw from the media industry, Ma said.

Despite the DPP government’s crackdown on the party assets’ potential buyers at the time, he still sold them in a legal manner and for a reasonable price, Ma said.

“The problem is, prosecutors are now accusing me of selling ‘national assets-to-be,’” Ma said, adding that it was “preposterous” for prosecutors to think that he would then have been able to foresee the passage of the Act Governing the Handling of Ill-gotten Properties by Political Parties and Their Affiliate Organizations (政黨及其附隨組織不當取得財產處理條例) in 2016.

The KMT Central Standing Committee determined that no financial damage was caused by the transactions, he said.

Regarding prosecutors’ reported seizure of hundreds of recordings of conversations between Ma and people connected to the matter that are purportedly enough to convict him, the former president said they were merely recordings of meetings.

“Prosecutors have selectively taken parts of the recordings that might be advantageous to them and built a story around them,” Ma said, calling on prosecutors to make public the evidence in its entirety instead of presenting it out of context.

Ma also criticized a request by prosecutors that judges impose a heavier sentence on him because of his “bad attitude” during questioning, saying that he only did what the prosecutors told him at the beginning of the questioning sessions that he was entitled to do, which was to remain silent.

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