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Supreme Court orders retrial for former President Ma

2019/01/03 23:25:25

Taipei, Jan. 3 (CNA) The Supreme Court on Thursday revoked the conviction of former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on charges of leaking classified information and sent the case back to the High Court for a retrial, saying the judges had not clarified the facts.

In May last year, the Taiwan High Court found Ma guilty of leaking classified information related to the investigation of an opposition lawmaker while the probe was in progress.

The High Court sentenced Ma to four months in prison for violating the Communication Security and Surveillance Act. The decision overturned a not guilty verdict previously issued by a district court.

However, the Supreme Court on Thursday order a retrial, saying the High Court's judgment did not clarify many of the facts in the case that led it to issue a guilty verdict.

After the Supreme Court issued its ruling, Ma said he had confidence in the country's judicial system.

"I stand by my innocence," he said.

The case goes back to September 2013 when it was disclosed that then-State Prosecutor-General Huang Shyh-ming (黃世銘) had shown Ma a transcript of wiretapped conversations that were part of evidence collected in an ongoing investigation of alleged breach of trust by senior Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘).

In the taped conversations, then Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and Ker were heard talking about lobbying two senior justice officials, including the minister of justice, to prevent any appeal of the breach of trust case in which Ker had first been found guilty and was then acquitted on appeal.

According to prosecutors, Ma leaked the contents of the recording, Ker's personal information and other information related to the ongoing investigation to then-Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) and then-Presidential Office Deputy Secretary General Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強).

Ma was also indicted for instructing Huang to leak the confidential information to Jiang.

Huang was convicted in February 2015 of violating the Communication Security and Surveillance Act and was sentenced to 15 months in prison, commutable to a fine of NT$457,000 (US$14,751), which he has since paid.

Ma was president at the time and therefore had immunity from criminal prosecution, but he was summoned as a potential defendant in the case for the first time on Dec. 1, 2016, after leaving office in May that year.

The Taipei District Court, however, found Ma not guilty of the two charges on Aug. 25, 2017, after which prosecutors appealed the case in the High Court.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court said there were many contradictions in the case and that the High Court had not provided enough hard evidence to justify its ruling against Ma.

(By Hsiao Po-wen and Ko Lin)
Enditem/pc/cs