Local prosecutors and lawyers yesterday said Hualien Prosecutor Lee Tsu-chun's (李子春) "indictment" of Ketagalan Institute Vice President You Ying-lung (游盈隆), is legal but his decision to challenge his superiors' authority was inappropriate.
Lee on Wednesday announced his "indictment" of You for violating the Public Officials Election and Recall Law (公職人員選罷法), without first gaining the approval of his superiors.
The Ministry of Justice and the Supreme Prosecutors' Office both declared the indictment illegal on Wednesday, but the Hualien District Court yesterday said it would hold a hearing and rule on its legality.
"It was not wise or appropriate for Lee to challenge his superior officer. But, his indictment is totally legal," said Kao Yung-cheng (高涌誠), executive-general of the Judicial Reform Foundation.
Kao said that according to the administrative mechanism for prosecutions, an indictment must be endorsed by a prosecutor's superior officers, including the chief prosecutor and prosecutor-general, before the indictment is handed down by a district court.
However, according to the Code of Criminal Procedure (刑事訴訟法), as long as the prosecutor signs the indictment, it then becomes a legal document.
"The Code of Criminal Procedure does not stipulate that the prosecutor's superior officers have to endorse it as well," Kao said.
However, Kao said Lee's behavior obviously violated Article 63 and Article 64 of the Organic Law of Court Organization (法院組織法), which regulates the administration of a prosecution.
Kao's remarks were echoed by Prosecutors' Reform Association spokesman Chen Chih-ming (陳誌銘), a Tainan prosecutor.
Chen said Lee's behavior is quite "educational" but not "reasonable."
"In addition to sparking discussion over the matter, the case can be a reminder for those who are planning to buy votes for next week's election. However, Lee should know that what he did can be politicized as well. A prosecutor is supposed to stay neutral and Lee knows better than that," Chen said.
The Prosecutors' Association spokesman, Liu Cheng-wu (劉承武), a Taipei prosecutor, said the association would endorse Lee's "indictment" but not his challenge to his superior officers' authority.
"It would break the administrative mechanism into pieces," Liu said. "I think he should give us a better reason as to why he did so."
On July 27 last year, You, then the Democratic Progressive Party's candidate for Hualien County commissioner, was alleged to have taken part in vote-buying after saying during a campaign activity that he would give a monthly NT$5,000 service allowance to the county's Aboriginal chiefs to help them with community affairs if he won.
The statement was reported to the Hualien District Prosecutors' Office by an anonymous person who claimed that You's promise constituted bribery.
This prompted prosecutors to open an investigation.
Hualien District Court said it has accepted Lee's "indictment" and plans to rule on its legality.
"We will organize hearings, co-hosted by three judges, to decide whether Lee's indictment is legal and whether the legal process shall continue," said Lai Chun-liang (賴淳良), spokesman for the Hualien District Court.
On Wednesday, in response to Lee's announcement of the indictment, State Public Prosecutor-General Wu Ying-chao (