The recent indictment of Taipei District Court Judge Chou Chan-chun (周占春) on charges of malfeasance prompted speculation from pan-green lawmakers yesterday that Chou could have been targeted for political reasons. Pan-blue lawmakers, on the other hand, accused the pan-green camp of looking for something that wasn’t there.
The Taipei Prosecutors’ Office on Friday charged Judge Chou and court clerk Liu Lee-ying (劉麗英) with malfeasance for being negligent in the disclosure of a witness’ name who was involved in a case involving illegal drug production and transportation that was tried by Chou.
According to Friday’s indictment, Chou failed to conceal information on an informant who tipped off the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) that Lu Chun-hua (盧俊華) was growing marijuana in 2008.
When the CGA asked for a search warrant from the Taipei District Court, Chou did not conceal the informant’s identity after reviewing all the documents related to the investigation.
Liu also failed to notice that the information she was handling was related to the informant and did not ensure his identity remained confidential, enabling Lu’s lawyer to get access to the informant’s identity after prosecutors indicted his client last year.
The informant and members of his family have since informed prosecutors that they have received frequent threats from unidentified people after the informant’s name was leaked.
Chou’s name was in the news recently after serving as the lead judge in a trial that found former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and his wife not guilty in a bank merger case in which he was charged with taking bribes related to two major mergers of financial institutions during his term in office and laundering the money.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安) said that if there are minor flaws in how judges handle their cases, they can be easily disciplined in accordance with internal disciplinary measures. It is hard for people not to associate it with political machinations when a judge’s mistake is deemed relatively mild and yet he is charged with a criminal act, he said.
DPP Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said his gut feeling told him the charges are a way of “getting back at Chou.”
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟), on the other hand, said there was nothing personal in the indictment, the prosecutors simply indicted Chou in accordance with the law.
KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) said the public should not overly interpret such events as always political in nature.