Thu, Apr 04, 2019 - Page 3 News List

NPP calls for probe into ex-minister

CONCERNED:Former minister of justice Chiu Tai-san denied having interfered in the prosecution of a case, saying that he would accept probes by government agencies

By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

Minister of Justice Tsai Ching-hsiang at the ministry in Taipei yesterday comments on a report by the Taiwan High Prosecutors’ Office saying that former justice minister of Chiu Tai-san used his influence to interfere in the prosecution of a case.

Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times

The New Power Party (NPP) and the Judicial Reform Foundation yesterday urged the Control Yuan to launch an investigation into former minister of justice Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) after the Taiwan High Prosecutors’ Office in a report on Tuesday said that he tried to interfere in the prosecution of a case by using his political influence.

Chiu on Tuesday denied the allegation and said that the report was erroneous, but resigned from his post as a National Security Council (NSC) adviser as a judicial investigation ensued.

Chiu on March 18 told then-Taoyuan District Prosecutors’ Office chief prosecutor Peng Kun-yeh (彭坤業) over dinner at a Taipei restaurant that the prosecutor in charge of a tax evasion case involving Taoyuan’s Landseed International Hospital head Chang Huang-chen (張煥禎) had flip-flopped over whether to reach a plea agreement with the defendant, the report said.

Chiu said the prosecutor had originally agreed to a plea agreement with the defendant, but later changed his mind, adding that the reversal was not ideal for the judiciary’s image, it said.

Chang and two of his colleagues were in October last year charged with breaches of the Tax Collection Act (稅捐稽徵法), having allegedly evaded more than NT$500 million (US$16.2 million at the current exchange rate) in taxes between 2007 and 2016.

The case is ongoing at the Taoyuan District Court.

Following the meeting, Peng instructed the prosecutor’s direct supervisor to prepare a plea agreement, adding that he would personally see to it if they could not work out the terms of an agreement, the report said.

Another prosecutor was assigned to the case to provide assistance, it said.

Chiu on Tuesday said he had offered a full report about the case to President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文).

“To prevent any inconvenience that might be caused to the NSC, I have tendered my resignation,” he said.

He is willing to debate other people involved in the case to defend his innocence and would accept investigations by other agencies, he said.

He said he has never asked prosecutors to reach a plea agreement with the defendants or interfered with prosecution.

He was only concerned about prosecutors changing their minds after agreeing to a plea deal, he said, adding that in this case, the defendant had been working with the prosecutor on a deal for three months before the latter suddenly backed out.

The president respects Chiu’s decision and supports him in defending his innocence, Presidential Office spokesperson Xavier Chang (張惇涵) said on Tuesday.

NPP Legislator Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) at a news conference yesterday accused Chiu of placing undue pressure on prosecutors through Peng, a former classmate.

Chiu is “the rotten apple that spoiled the barrel” and his statement was “shameless and full of lies,” Huang said.

“The alleged influence-peddling has seriously undermined people’s trust in the judicial system,” NPP Chairman Chiu Hsien-chih (邱顯智) said.

The report made clear that the defendant never pleaded guilty and that the prosecutor in charge never accepted any conditions from him, he said.

Requiring a prosecutor to reach a plea agreement when the defendant denies being guilty is “unheard of” and “beyond reason,” Chiu Hsien-chih said.

The Presidential Office should instruct the Control Yuan to launch an investigation into Chiu Tai-san, the NPP said.

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