Ex-president attends court hearing on secret leak case (update)

Former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) appeared in court in Taipei Tuesday to defend himself against accusations that he leaked confidential information while in office.

It was the first time Ma had been summoned by the Taipei District Court to attend a hearing in the case, which was filed three years ago by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘), who claims Ma leaked details regarding an ongoing criminal investigation that he obtained from former State Prosecutor-General Huang Shyh-ming (黃世銘).

In a statement issued through his office, Ma said he was innocent of any wrongdoing and accused Ker of filing the lawsuit in an attempt to divert public attention from his own involvement in an influence-peddling case.

No one should lobby for a legal case that is going through the legal process, as such a move would damage the “most basic judicial justice,” Ma told the court. “This is a grave issue that must not be evaded,” he added.

In response, Ker accused Ma of “waging a political struggle under the pretext of pursuing a lobbying case.” He said that when Ma intervened in a private lawsuit in his capacity as head of state, he brought shame on Taiwan’s constitutional democracy.

The former president’s popularity dipped to a mere 9.2 percent, in part because of his personal involvement in the highly political case, Ker said, advising Ma to “admit to his missteps” and to seize his last chance to “save his own skin.”

The controversy erupted in September 2013 after Huang was found to have shown Ma transcripts of a wiretapped conversation between Ker and then-Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), in which they were heard discussing lobbying two senior justice officials to prevent any appeal of Ker’s acquittal in a breach of trust case.

Huang was convicted in February 2015 of violating the Communication Security and Surveillance Act for disclosing details of the prosecutors’ investigation of Ma.

Tseng Chin-yuan (曾勁元), Ker’s lawyer, urged the court to bar Ma from leaving the country for fear he might flee Taiwan.

The presiding judge, Wu Yung-yi (吳勇毅), asked if Ma had any plans to leave the country, to which he responded that he has plans to make foreign visits Nov. 15-23 but that he “intends to return to this country.”

Wu then announced that a new hearing will be held on the case Jan. 10.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel

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