A legislative committee yesterday passed a resolution condemning Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming (黃世銘) and the Special Investigation Division (SID) of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office for holding the legislature in contempt after SID officials failed once again to attend the committee’s meeting yesterday to answer legislators’ questions.
Lawmakers on the Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee voiced their anger after SID spokesman Yang Jung-tsung (楊榮宗) and SID prosecutor Cheng Shen-yuan (鄭深元) — who was in charge of wiretapping Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) and the legislature’s switchboard — failed to attend the meeting.
Yang and Cheng were both also absent from the committee’s meeting on Thursday last week.
Legislators, who believe that Huang has instructed the pair not to meet with the committee, passed a resolution condemning Huang and the SID and referred Yang and Cheng to the Control Yuan for investigation.
The Committee’s convener, DPP Legislator Wu Yi-chen (吳宜臻), said that since Yang and Cheng failed to appear at the meeting on Thursday last week, legislators requested that Huang tell the two to attend yesterday’s meeting, but “obviously Huang has ignored the committee’s request.”
When answering reporters’ questions before the meeting started, Minister of Justice Lo Ying-shay (羅瑩雪) said that “it’s inappropriate for lawmakers to ask prosecutors to be present at legislative meetings and to answer legislators’ questions related to cases of which they are in charge.”
“In such an arrangement, it is like having prosecutors face a public trial, and legislators might misjudge the scope of questioning the prosecutors on public affairs and specific judicial cases should accept,” Lo added.
Lo said that prosecutors are not under constitutional obligation to be present before the legislature and take questions from lawmakers.
Meanwhile, the Prosecutor Association, ROC (Taiwan), the nationwide organization of prosecutors, issued a statement saying that legislature’s rights of investigation and interpellation cannot apply to questioning prosecutors about specific cases, citing the Council of Grand Justices’ Interpretations No. 325, No. 461 and No. 585.
“Prosecutors exercise their authority independently, in accordance with the Constitution, and their investigations cannot be interfered with by political powers,” the association said.
It said that the request by the legislature is unconstitutional and leaves open the possibility that lawmakers might interfere with judicial affairs.
The association also launched a signature motion yesterday inviting prosecutors nationwide to protect prosecutors’ rights.
DPP lawmakers criticized the prosecutors’ refusal to attend a Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee meeting and the Prosecutor Association’s “distortion” of the grand justices’ interpretations.
The committee asked the prosecutors to attend the meeting to hear their opinions about the ministry’s special panel, which had released a report on the wiretapping controversy, not to collect information on ongoing investigations or specific cases, DPP Legislator Wu Ping-jui (吳秉叡) told a press conference.
The association’s citing of the Interpretation No. 461 was a mistake and a distortion, Wu added, because the interpretation only discussed whether the chief of the general staff is required to be interpellated by lawmakers.
DPP Legislator Liu Chao-hao (劉櫂豪) said that legislators are smart enough to know that they could not ask prosecutors about ongoing cases, adding that the committee was only trying to understand the details of the panel’s investigation.