The government would not interfere with judicial cases, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said in a radio interview yesterday and he vowed to continue demanding integrity from government officials and civil servants.
His comments came amid a public outcry over the light sentence given to former Executive Yuan secretary-general Lin Yi-shih (林益世) on April 30 for accepting NT$63 million (US$2.13 million) from a contractor.
The Taipei District Court sentenced Lin, a former close aide of Ma’s, to seven years and four months in prison after deciding that he had not violated the Anti-Corruption Act (貪汙治罪條例).
There has been criticism that the court was lenient on Lin because he was a Ma confidant.
In an interview with Hit FM radio, Ma said that as the nation’s leader, he should ensure that the judicial system functions properly, adding that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) should refrain from discussing Lin’s case.
“I will not interfere with the judicial system or comment on any judicial cases. In a democratic society, we should respect the [judicial] system and maintain its independence,” said Ma, who also serves as KMT chairman.
When asked why he had not canceled the appointment of KMT Taipei City Councilor Lai Su-ju (賴素如) as his lawyer in a defamation case after she was taken into custody on suspicion of involvement in a bribery case, Ma acknowledged his negligence and said his aides would correct the mistake.
Lai and another lawyer were appointed to act for Ma in a case against Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Liang Wen-chieh (梁文傑), who alleged Ma had solicited support from gangsters in Chiayi in 2011 during the campaign for last year’s presidential election.
Lai was still listed as Ma’s lawyer when the High Court began hearing the case two days ago.
Ma reiterated his apologies for top government and KMT officials’ involvement in bribery cases, and said he supported the role of the judicial system in uncovering the truth.
“Integrity is a core value, and fighting corruption is a major policy of my administration,” he said.
“I do not see anyone’s involvement in bribery cases as political or judicial persecution, and I don’t interfere with the judicial system,” he said.