Taiwan's top prosecutor convicted of leaking secrets

Taiwan's top prosecutor convicted of leaking secrets
Huang Shih-ming.

TAIPEI - A court Friday sentenced Taiwan's chief prosecutor to 14 months in prison for leaking confidential information to President Ma Ying-jeou about a controversial probe into influence peddling claims last year.

Prosecutor-general Huang Shyh-ming was convicted of leaking secrets relating to the investigation late last year, which examined allegations that parliamentary speaker Wang Jin-pyng meddled in a court case implicating an opposition lawmaker, said the Taipei district court.

"The accused briefed President Ma and handed over information of an ongoing investigation which should have been kept confidential in violation of the law," the court said in a statement.

Huang became the first prosecutor-general to be indicted and convicted in Taiwan's history. He can appeal against the ruling or pay a fine of Tw$420,000 (S$17,500) instead of serving the sentence.

The information implicating the speaker was obtained by a wiretap on opposition Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Ker Chien-ming's phone, which prosecutors have insisted was legal.

However, the DPP has compared it to the Watergate scandal in the United States which resulted in the resignation of then-president Richard Nixon in 1974.

Ma's popularity took a severe hit, plunging to a dismal nine per cent in the wake of the political scandal last year that saw two top officials resign, while thousands of protesters took to the streets to demand Ma's resignation.

Ma has said Wang was "unfit" to head parliament after he was accused of influencing prosecutors not to appeal against the acquittal last year of Ker in a breach of trust case.

While Ma described the incident as "the most shameful day" in Taiwan's democracy, the accusations have been strongly rejected by Wang.

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