Wiretap report ‘hurts credibility’

WIRETAPPING WHITEWASH?:Critics said the public would not believe what was a blatant coverup for Huang Shih-ming, and the ministry made up its mind even before the probe

By Yang Kuo-wen and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Sun, Oct 13, 2013 - Page 3

The conclusion reached by the Ministry of Justice’s report that the Special Investigation Division (SID) of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office’s wiretapping of the Legislative Yuan’s telephone line was a mistake has prompted criticism from some legal experts, who said the report has greatly damaged the credibility of the judiciary.

An 11-member task force consisting of officials and outside experts responsible for the investigation into the wiretapping of the legislature found no evidence that the SID did it deliberately, Deputy Minister of Justice Chen Ming-tang (陳明堂) told a press conference on Friday.

The findings supported the SID’s earlier assertion that it thought the 10-digit number it asked to have wiretapped belonged to a cellphone used by Democratic Progressive Party caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘), who was being investigated at the time over alleged influence peddling on behalf of a prison inmate seeking parole.

While the SID did not wiretap the legislature on purpose, a mistake was made and the task force recommended that administrative disciplinary measures be considered for Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming (黃世銘), SID spokesman Yang Jung-tsung (楊榮宗) and the prosecutor in charge of the Ker investigation, SID prosecutor Cheng Shen-yuan (鄭深元), by referring them to the Prosecutors Evaluation Committee.

Taiwan Forever Association founder Cheng Wen-lung (鄭文龍), who is active in judiciary circles, said the report has no credibility and the public would not believe such a blatant coverup for Huang.

Minister of Justice Lo Ying-shay (羅瑩雪) said before the task force was even established that the SID had not intended to wiretap the legislature, Cheng Wen-lung said, adding that Lo’s comments, and the task force investigation results, seemed to imply that the ministry was attempting to cover up for Huang.

Pointing to the report’s condemnation of Cheng Shen-yuan having to take most of the responsibility for administrative oversight, Cheng Wen-lung said that the public could not accept such a result.

The SID, being under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office, is the best equipped and supported judiciary agency, not to mention that it has the best prosecutors the nation has to offer, Chen Wen-lung said.

“I found it difficult to believe that the SID could wiretap the legislature for more than four months and not discover that it was the Legislative Yuan’s main switchboard,” he said.

Cheng Wen-lung also said that the investigative report, available after only 10 days, was clearly intended to act as a pointer for the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office as to which direction its ongoing investigation should take, he added.

“It is a clear interference with judicial independence and an ongoing investigation,” he said.

Meanwhile, Judicial Reform Foundation executive director Lin Feng-jeng (林峰正) said the ministry’s task force had created more problems than it solved, pointing to an incident on May 21, when the SID called the number under surveillance that was later confirmed as the Legislative Yuan switchboard, but which Huang and the rest of the investigated SID members denied knowing.

The ministry’s task force made no recommendations of punitive measures, but decided that the SID had not intentionally bugged the legislature, then dumped the responsibility on the Prosecutors Evaluation Committee, Lin said, asking: “What then is the point of having the task force?”

Saying that the task force has already deprived the committee of any chance or room for further investigation, Lin added that he hoped the committee would remain independent and objective when it makes its evaluation of the SID.