The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislative caucus yesterday criticized a decision by the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office to grant deferred prosecution to 27 military personnel and officials implicated in a duty-free cigarette smuggling scandal.
The office on Thursday concluded the second phase of investigations into the case, granting the 27 people involved in the case — including Major General Lin Kuo-chin (林國欽) and Special Service member Chang Chia-ling (張嘉玲) — deferred prosecution on the condition that they pay fines of NT$30,000 to NT$300,000.
Chang, a close aide to President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), purchased 100 cartons of cigarettes at the behest of her boyfriend, prosecutors said.
Deferred prosecution was granted because the 27 people showed remorse, they added.
KMT caucus whip William Tseng (曾銘宗) yesterday told a news conference in Taipei that shortly after the scandal came to light on July 22, the Presidential Office described it as “excessive buying,” apparently in an attempt to try to intervene in the investigation by downplaying the issue.
By contrast, National Security Bureau official Wu Tsung-hsien (吳宗憲) — who reportedly acted as an intermediary for the purchases and bought one carton of duty-free cigarettes — was scapegoated and charged with contraventions of the Anti-Corruption Act (貪汙治罪條例), which are felonies, Tseng said.
The caucus condemns in the strongest terms the double standard the Tsai administration has adopted in adjudicating the case — letting high-ranking officials off while charging their subordinates with felonies, which is unjust, he said.
KMT Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) said that the second phase of investigations showed that the judiciary is subservient to politics.
The charges against Wu carry a prison term of at least 10 years, he added, urging Wu to turn state’s evidence so the real culprits could answer for their crimes.
KMT Legislator Alex Fai (費鴻泰) said that the president’s entourage on state visits is under the purview of the Presidential Office, not the bureau, to which the office has sought to shift the responsibility.
The move was aimed at dissociating Presidential Office Secretary-General Chen Chu (陳菊) from the case, he said.
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