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Taiwan's Ex-President Ma Ying-jeou Indicted in Wiretapping Case

Prosecutors in Taiwan announced on Tuesday that the island's former president Ma Ying-jeou had been indicted over the handling of classified information in a 2013 wiretapping case.

If convicted, Mr. Ma faces a maximum of three years in prison.

Post-presidential legal troubles are something of an occupational hazard for leaders of Taiwan. After leaving office in 2008, Mr. Ma's predecessor, Chen Shui-bian, was convicted on corruption charges. Mr. Chen was released on medical parole in 2015 after serving six years of a 20-year sentence.

Upon assuming the presidency in 2008, Mr. Ma was viewed by many as a steady hand after Mr. Chen's unpredictable tenure. But when Mr. Ma stepped down as president in May, he was highly unpopular after eight years of poor economic performance, numerous scandals and accusations of selling out to China.

During his tenure, Mr. Ma focused on improving relations with China, which claims self-ruled and democratic Taiwan as its territory and has threatened to attack the island if it formalizes its independence.

Legislative moves to open Taiwan's service sector to Chinese investment led to the protests known as the Sunflower Movement in 2014, in which tens of thousands took to the streets and hundreds of demonstrators occupied the Legislative Yuan, Taiwan's legislature. The protests succeeded in killing the legislation.

Mr. Ma's indictment is connected to a high-profile fight in 2013 that he picked with the former president of the Legislative Yuan, Wang Jin-pyng, a popular lawmaker known for his ability to work across party lines. Mr. Ma and Mr. Wang are members of the Kuomintang, which was the governing party at the time but is now a severely weakened opposition party.

While president, Mr. Ma accused Mr. Wang of influencing prosecutors to not appeal a not-guilty verdict in a court ruling involving Ker Chien-ming, a senior lawmaker in the Democratic Progressive Party. Mr. Ma is accused of having illegally ordered an investigator to leak details of wiretapped conversations between Mr. Wang and Mr. Ker to Taiwan's premier at the time, Jiang Yi-huah.

Prosecutors questioned Mr. Ma in December as part of their current investigation.

Hsu Chiao-hsin, a spokeswoman for Mr. Ma, told the news media that he expected "a fair and just verdict" in the case.

The Kuomintang's loss of both the presidency and control of the legislature in the general election last year is widely attributed to Mr. Ma. Speaking at an event last week at the Brookings Institution in Washington, he rejected accusations that he was to blame.

In a brief statement, Hu Wen-chi, deputy director of the Kuomintang's Culture and Communications Committee, described the indictment as "quite regrettable."

"The Kuomintang believes in former President Ma's innocence and personal integrity," Mr. Hu said.

[Source: By Chris Horton, The New York Times, 14Mar17]

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small logoThis document has been published on 17Mar17 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.