Fri, Jan 21, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Prosecutors probe legislator 'threats' to judicial budget

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Minister of Justice Chen Ding-nan (陳定南) yesterday said prosecutors will investigate a report that certain Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and People First Party (PFP) lawmakers want to reduce the budget for the Taiwan High Court Prosecutor's Office because the office is proceeding with investigations into their activities.

"It is the job of lawmakers to decide whether to approve the budget, but it is the job of the prosecutors to investigate what they believe to be suspicious activity, no matter who the suspect is," Chen said.

The tension between the lawmakers and the court's Black Gold Investigation Center began when Taichung Prosecutor Chien Wen-chen (簡文鎮) told the press on Wednesday that "certain KMT and PFP lawmakers" were trying to take advantage of their office to "threaten" prosecutors with a budget cut if they did not cease work on their cases.

Chien did not name the lawmakers but it is thought he was referring to the PFP's Shen Chih-hwei (沈智慧) and Fu Kun-chi (傅崑萁) and the KMT's Ho Chih-hui (何智輝) and Lin Chin-chun (林進春).

Shen and Fu are alleged to have made large sums of money manipulating the stock market. Ho and Lin are alleged to have accepted kickbacks from construction firms in return for contracts.

The four lawmakers said however that they did not threaten prosecutors as Chien "implied" in his comments.

"I have no idea why Chien would say such a thing," Lin said. "I have been a politician for 20 years and I dare to say that I have never accepted any bribes."

Shen yesterday filed a defamation lawsuit against Chien at the Taichung District Prosecutor's Office.

"I was about to campaign for deputy legislative speaker. Chien's remarks will seriously damage my reputation," he said.

In addition to suing the prosecutors, Shen also offered an explanation for why she would support reducing the budget for the center.

"`The Black Gold Investigation Center' is in fact not a real office. It is a `special task force' under the Taiwan High Court Prosecutor's Office and operates only as necessary. Of course its budget should be reduced," she said.

Chen dismissed Shen's comments, saying that the center, which was established on July 1, 2000, is a formal agency and has its own prosecutors. The center has branches in Taipei, Tai-chung, Tainan and Kaohsiung, and deals exclusively with bribery cases.

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