Taipei-Former President Ma Ying-jeou (???) was found not guilty on Friday of abetting the leak of classified information related to the investigation of an opposition lawmaker while the probe was in progress in September 2013.
In response to the ruling handed down by the Taipei District Court, Ma said through a spokesperson that he was gratified with the result, which he said has established the administrative powers of the president based on the Constitution.
Ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesman Ruan Jhao-syong (???), said, however, that his party regretted but respected the ruling, which can be appealed by prosecutors.
The case goes back to September 2013 when it was disclosed that then-State Prosecutor-General Huang Shyh-ming (???) 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 DPP lawmaker Ker Chien-ming (???).
In the taped conversations, then Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (???) 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 been acquitted.
According to prosecutors, Ma encouraged Huang to leak the contents of the recording, Ker's personal information and other information related to the ongoing investigation to then Premier Jiang Yi-huah (???) and then Presidential Office Deputy Secretary General Lo Chih-chiang (???).
The Taipei District Court said in a statement, however, that there was insufficient evidence showing that Ma instigated the leak and no indication of criminal intent on Ma's part.
The court also summoned Article 44 of the Constitution of the Republic of China to rule in Ma's favor, saying that as president he had the power to intervene in disputes between different branches of government.
The article says the president has "the power to call a meeting of the presidents of different Yuans" (including the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government in Taiwan) if a dispute arises between two or more of the Yuans that the Constitution does not make provisions for.
In Ma's case, he stepped in when Wang, the head of the legislative branch, tried to peddle influence in the judicial branch because of Ker's case, the court found.
It was the second time Ma was found not guilty in similar cases. Ker had filed a separate lawsuit accusing Ma of defaming him and abetting Huang to leak classified information related to his case, but the Taipei District Court found Ma not guilty on March 28.
Ker was unhappy with Friday's ruling, calling the ruling a betrayal of and a disgrace to the legal system, and he urged prosecutors to appeal the decision.
Then-State Prosecutor-General Huang was originally convicted in the case 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.
He was indicted on charges of violating the Criminal Code, the Communication Security and Surveillance Act and the Personal Information Protection Act on March 14 this year.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel