Thu, May 17, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Ma ruling unlikely to be reversed: Ker

END OF AN ERA?The guilty verdict against Ma Ying-jeou represents the end of police state tactics against dissent, and a move toward the rule of law, Ker Chien-ming said

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

The Supreme Court is unlikely to reverse the Taiwan High Court’s guilty verdict against former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus convener Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said yesterday, while Ma faces other legal battles over the sales of properties owned by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).

Ker made the comments during an interview on political commentator Clara Chou’s (周玉蔻) Hit FM radio breakfast show

The Taiwan High Court’s verdict on Tuesday was a landmark ruling with great implications and its importance matches any of the constitutional interpretations made by the Council of Grand Justices, Ker said.

“The court found Ma guilty of leaking of confidential information in a case under judicial investigation. It was a watershed moment for the justice system to bid farewell to an old era,” he added.

The ruling represents the end of the use of “police-state tactics” of secretly monitoring and wiretapping people to suppress dissent, and a move toward the rule of law, he said.

“The court clearly stated that the law must be applied equally, and that from the president down to ordinary people, no one is above the law. Therefore the justice system is working in earnest to investigate criminal actions by the [former] president,” Ker said.

“I believe that Ma is afraid of prosecution in the cases dealing with the sales of KMT properties and assets when Ma was party chairman,” Ker said. “Those cases involve receiving bribes, undue financial benefit, breach of trust and other offenses, which are all major felonies.”

In the High Court ruling, Ma was convicted of leaking classified information obtained from the now-defunct Special Investigation Division’s wiretaps of Ker, then-legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and others in 2013.

He was sentenced to four months in prison, which can be commuted to a fine of NT$120,000. He can appeal the ruling.

In related news, the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office released a statement in response to media reports that it breached the principle of independence and impartiality of the judiciary.

Media reports said a few seconds of loud cheering was heard on Tuesday from the chief prosecutor’s office as the High Court’s ruling was announced.

The office said the incident has been blown out of proportion and the reports distorted the facts.

Several prosecutors and staff were meeting at the time, and since Ma’s case is a prominent one and as the High Court verdict overturned the not-guilty ruling in the first trial, it naturally led to some discussion by those attending the meeting, the office said.

“Three seconds of loud cheering” is an exaggeration and distortion, it said.

“We regret that some media outlets published the report without checking the facts, which could lead to discord among different groups,” it added.

An aide to Ma, former Presidential Office deputy secretary-general Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強), yesterday said that the High Court ruling was “outrageous.”

It was made by judges who were out of touch with society, and it dealt a serious blow to the legal framework upon which the government is based, Lo said.

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