TAIPEI, Taiwan - Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming is likely to be officially listed as a defendant next week at the earliest to face further prosecution over his alleged leaking of wiretapped information in a lobbying case to President Ma Ying-jeou before the official investigation period of lobbying case had ended, according to judicial sources.
The case involves Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng and opposition Democratic Progressive Party legislative whip Ker Chien-ming.
Huang was interrogated Thursday as a would-be defendant by the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office (TDPO) in its probe of his alleged illegal leakage of judicial investigation information.
According to the laws of the nation, a lack of evidence will force prosecutors to terminate any investigation and close the case involving the would-be defendant.
But if a would-be defendant is officially listed as a defendant, further investigation will be conducted, and prosecutors will eventually determine whether to indict the defendant or not based on the evidence collected.
In investigating Huang's case, the TDPO Wednesday questioned Prosecutor Cheng Sheng-yuan of the Special Investigation Division (SID) under the Supreme Prosecutors Office, who was in charge of investigating the lobbying case involving Wang and Ker. Cheng said that the SID finished investigating the lobbying case on Sept. 5.
The case revolves around Huang's visits to the Presidential Residence on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 to inform President Ma Ying-jeou of the wiretapped conversations between Wang and Ker and evidence gleaned on Wang's alleged influence peddling. Huang did so apparently when the SID's investigation on the Wang-Ker lobbying case had not yet concluded.
Accordingly, President Ma Ying-jeou, Premier Jiang Yi-huah and former Presidential Office spokesman Lo Chih-chiang were also summoned as witnesses on Thursday, as the TDPO hoped their testimonies would unlock the still cloaked issue of what Huang and Ma discussed during their two meetings in the Presidential Residence.
Ma allegedly relayed the transcripts of wiretapped Wang-Ker conversations to Lo and Jiang moments after Huang left his residence and prompted them to find a solution to the lobbying case.
The president claimed that he and the other two had only listened to the wiretapped conversations, and that he did not instruct Lo and Jiang to take further measures.
The most serious penalty for leaking classified information is three years behind bars, but as Ma had previously claimed, because he was not aware of the fact that the investigation period was not yet over, the sentence, if handed down, would be reduced by half, according to experts in the legal community.
Although Ma is unlikely to be listed as a defendant due to his presidency, he would not be exempted from punishment after his term in office ends.
Huang claimed that the influence-peddling incident violated Administrative Laws but not Criminal Law.