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Sat, Jan 15, 2000 - Page 2 News List

Top prosecutor to oversee
Taiwan Pineapple inquiry

JUDICIARY The Minister of Justice, under fire for failing to fully expose the extent of the corruption, has appointed the Prosecutor General to oversee the case

By Irene Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

As reports surface alleging that the Ministry of Justice is covering up an ongoing scandal involving members of the judiciary, Minister of Justice Yeh Chin-fong (葉金鳳) has ordered the head of Taiwan's prosecutorial system to take over the case.

Responding yesterday to challenges over her resolve in handling the case, Yeh said she would not allow any attempts at a white-wash, and has ordered State Public Prosecutor General Lu Jen-fa (盧仁發) to launch an investigation into the Taiwan Pineapple Corp saga.

"Lu is one of the few persons thought appropriate to take charge, given the fact that the State Public Prosecutor General's Office of the Supreme Court is the only agency whose prosecutors have not been linked to the misconduct," Yeh said.

DPP legislator Lee Wen-chung (李文忠) revealed on Thursday that three prosecutors and two former judicial officials have had suspicious financial relationships with Lee Yu-huei (李玉惠), an alleged go-between in the well-known Taiwan Pineapple scandal that broke last November.

Two of the prosecutors named by Lee are from the Public Prosecutors' Office of the Taiwan High Court. The other, Ho Chun-ying (何俊英), is prosecutor at the justice ministry's department of government ethics.

At a closed-door meeting with the minister yesterday, members of the Prosecutors' Reform Association (檢察官改革協會) recommended that an independent team of prosecutors investigate allegations of the prosecutors' misconduct.

"We were told that a few higher-level prosecutors have also played a part in the scandal, which made us suspect existing investigations by district prosecutors will not reveal the true extent of the case, said Liu Wei-tsung (劉惟宗), head of the association.

Association members also pointed out that the government ethics department is not qualified to handle the case because its own prosecutor is suspected of misconduct.

Yeh said she did not agree, but stressed it was both her own and the association's goal to find out the whole truth -- which now involves not only district prosecutors but High Court prosecutors too.

Yeh said she has requested Lu find a means by which impartiality can be maintained during the investigation, to ensure that its findings are just. Ho, because of his suspicion of misconduct, will no longer take part in the investigations, Yeh said.

It is very rare for the Prosecutor General to oversee matters concerning the ethics of public officials, analysts said.

Last November, a legislator disclosed that judges and prosecutors were engaged in illicit transactions of Taiwan Pineapple stock, coinciding with an existing investigation into suspected insider-trading at the company.

Though many had thought the scandal had been fully exposed, further disclosure of information on Thursday has widened the scope of the high-profile judiciary scandal.

In releasing Lee Yu-huei's bank records, Lee Wen-chung drew attention to the fact that Ho, High Court prosecutor Chen Wei-lien (陳維練), and High Court prosecutor Lee Ming-pin's (李銘濱) brother all transferred sums of money -- ranging from NT$500,000 to NT$17 million -- into her account.

Also under suspicion is money Lee received from Yang Kuei-sen (楊貴森), the judge who was removed from office for his part in the scandal last November, and from Chung Yung-sheng (鐘永盛), a retired judicial official and now a practising lawyer.

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