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Thu, Oct 05, 2000 - Page 2 News List

Prosecutors investigating Liu case rue leak to press

INVESTIGATING THE INVESTIGATORS A probe into leaked secret transcripts has reversed the roles for prosecutors and, they say, slowed the case's progress

By Jou Ying-cheng  /  STAFF REPORTER

A prosecutor investigating embezzlement accusations surrounding Colonel Liu Kuan-chun (劉冠軍) complained yesterday that the publication of secret documents in the case had impeded the investigation's progress.

But the reporter who published the documents -- transcripts of three interviews with National Security Bureau officials -- said the airing of the secret files was not to blame.

The China Times Express on Saturday partially published transcripts of interviews with three National Security Bureau officials implicated in the Liu case.

On Tuesday, prosecutors raided the newspaper's newsroom -- sparking widespread criticism that the investigators were trampling on press freedom.

Taipei district prosecutor Hsueh Wei-ping (薛維平) said the leaked information and resulting investigation into the leak have slowed the momentum of the Liu investigation.

"An atmosphere of distrust has grown within the group," Hsueh said. "Because it's unknown who leaked the secret interrogation transcripts to the press, group members have been suspicious of one another."

Civil and military prosecutors, along with the justice ministry's investigation bureau, are jointly probing the embezzlement case. These officials are, in normal circumstances, believed to be the only persons having access to the interrogation records.

"Now we ourselves are under investigation and subject to questioning," Hsueh complained.

The security breach has been established as a separate criminal case and is being pursued by another group of Taipei district prosecutors.

Hsueh said the investigation into the leak as slowed down the investigation into Liu.

But Wang Yin-fang (王吟芳), one of the China Times Express reporters involved in the publishing of the interrogation records, disagreed with Hsueh's comments.

"A journalist shall report what is needed to be reported," Wang said. "Prosecutors should not shift responsibility to the press for the slow progress of their investigation."

Hsueh said he did not know the source of the information leak, but speculated the act was carried out deliberately. "The purpose was to alienate members on the investigative team and hinder the investigation," he said. "And they succeeded."

DPP Legislator Chang Ching-fang (張清芳), who has been pursuing the Liu case, said at a press conference on Tuesday that the information leak was "intriguing."

Chang said that the partially published interrogation records was unfavorable to certain high-ranking National Security Bureau figures.

Also, Chang said, if the source of the secret leak could be found, so could accomplices in the embezzlement case.

Chang postulated that certain forces within the security bureau were trying to disrupt the Liu investigation.

Liu Kuan-chun, the former chief cashier at the agency charged with embezzlement, remains missing. Military prosecutors issued an order for his arrest last Thursday.

While military prosecutor Lee Jung-yuna (李榮元) believes Liu is still in Taiwan, while other rumors have it that he has fled the country. Chang is concerned that Liu might be murdered by accomplices, if he hasn't been already.

Chang called on the Presidential Office to set up a higher-level special investigation task force to focus on the case, as has been done in the Yin Ching-feng (尹清楓) murder enquiry.

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