Mon, Nov 20, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Commentators say Ma fund prosecutor could be `biased'

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Commentators yesterday questioned the impartiality of the prosecutor investigating the alleged misuse of Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) special allowance fund, saying the investigator's friendship with the mayor created a conflict of interests.

Prosecutor Hou Kuan-jen (侯寬仁) should hand over the investigation to another prosecutor, the experts said.

"Ma was the witness at Hou's wedding ceremony, which indicates their good relations," former senior adviser to the president Peng Ming-min (彭明敏) told the Chinese-language Liberty Times,(the Taipei Times' sister newspaper) yesterday.

Peng said that according to the Criminal Procedure Code (刑事訴訟法), prosecutors should avoid involvement in an investigation if there is a concern of bias. He added that he was surprised that Hou has not applied to transfer the investigation to another prosecutor.

Lin Ching-tsung (林慶宗), a prosecutor with the Kaohsiung branch of the Taiwan High Court Prosecutors' Office, yesterday told the Taipei Times that although the Criminal Procedure Code requires prosecutors to transfer an investigation when there is a risk of bias, the law does not clearly define what kind of situations prosecutors should avoid. Therefore, he said, opinions often differ on the issue.

Y.C. Kao (高湧誠), executive director of the Judicial Reform Foundation, said that the Democratic Progressive Party lawmakers who filed the corruption suit against Ma could apply for a transfer of the investigation if they were concerned about bias. The Taiwan High Court Prosecutors' Office would then have to make a public ruling on the application.

He said if that were to happen, the prosecutors' office would have to explain to the public why the investigation should or should not be transferred.

The head of the Taiwan High Court Prosecutors' Office, Hsieh Wen-ding (謝文定), yesterday said that "if any parties involved in the case apply for a transfer of the case, my office will make a decision in accordance with the law."

The office's spokesman, Chang Wen-cheng (張文政), said that the investigation was "collective."

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