Fri, Mar 30, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan High Court chief transferred

UNDUE INFLUENCE?The Presidential Office condemned a news report that the government had put pressure on Hsieh Wen-ding to drop the case against the first lady

By Jimmy Chuang and Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The Ministry of Justice yesterday announced that the head of the Taiwan High Court Prosecutors' Office, Hsieh Wen-ding (謝文定), would be transferred to become chief prosecutor at the Supreme Court Prosecutors' Office.

The announcement came at a sensitive time, as yesterday's Chinese-language United Daily News quoted anonymous "reliable sources" as saying that the government's top brass had tried to pressure Hsieh into revoking first lady Wu Shu-jen's (吳淑珍) indictment.

The report said Hsieh was expected to be replaced soon because he had refused to cooperate.

The Presidential Office yesterday condemned the United Daily News for fabricating a claim that the administration had tried to pressure prosecutors to revoke the indictment of Wu.

"It has no basis in truth," said a statement issued by the Presidential Office yesterday morning.

Cooperation

Dismissing the report, the statement said the Presidential Office had repeatedly emphasized that it would respect the judiciary and was willing to cooperate with the investigation.

"We have never exerted any pressure nor interfered in the matter," the statement said. "We are sorry to see the reporters did not check their facts and the reports are speculative. What they do is not conducive to judicial independence and seriously sabotages social stability."

The statement said that just as local TV station, TVBS, has caused a strong public reaction with its controversial report about a gangster, "a newspaper" had also acted in an undisciplined manner and "continued to print groundless reports that disrupt social order."

"We urge the media to remain fair and objective in their reporting and fulfill their social obligation of strengthening democracy and the rule of law," the statement said.

When asked for comments yesterday, Hsieh said: "I shall follow my superior's decision, no matter what it is."

"Nobody asked me to withdraw the indictment, ever," he said when asked for comments on the United Daily News report. "In addition, the case was indicted by the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office, not us. I have no authorization to ask anybody to do so."

Hsieh said Minister of Justice Morley Shih (施茂林) initially planned to transfer him to become the director of the prosecutors' training school, but that he had turned down such an arrangement.

"I told [Shih] that I have no intention of being responsible for the training of our next generation because I am not qualified for a job like that. It is my hope that I can continue to work as a prosecutor," Hsieh explained.

Replacements

Hsieh's place would be taken by Taipei District Prosecutors' Office prosecutor-general Yen Da-ho (顏大和).

Yen's position will be filled by Vice Minister of Justice Wang Tien-sheng (王添盛), whose own position will be taken by Taiwan High Court Taichung Branch Prosecutors' Office prosecutor-general Tsai Mao-sheng (蔡茂盛).

Eric Chen (陳瑞仁), one of the Black Gold Investigation Center's prosecutors, said Hsieh had suffered from a lot of pressure during the investigation of the case.

"He once told me to do my best regarding the case and he would take all the responsibility and pressure," Chen said. "He never said anything to us but it was obvious that he took it all [upon himself]."

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