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Taiwan Prosecutor-General Chen Tsung-ming resigns after impeachment

DPP accuses President Ma of political interference

Taiwan Prosecutor-General Chen Tsung-ming resigns after impeachment

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Prosecutor-General Chen Tsung-ming tendered his resignation Tuesday after the nation’s top government watchdog body, the Control Yuan, approved a motion to impeach him for dereliction of duty.
The Yuan, which passed the first-ever impeachment of a prosecutor-general in Taiwan history in an 8-to-3 vote, also demanded speedy disciplinary action from the Ministry of Justice in a 7-to-4 vote.
Within hours of the vote, Chen tendered his resignation, according to media reports confirmed by Justice Minister Wang Ching-feng. She said she had passed on his letter to the Presidential Office. The president is expected to name a successor within three months, to be approved by the Legislative Yuan.
At a news conference Tuesday evening, Chen said he was resigning because he had no way of providing a good working environment to his investigators into the cases surrounding jailed ex-President Chen Shui-bian. He said he had been the victim of an unrelenting campaign of unfair accusations.
Critics frequently accused Chen of having done nothing to stop former hospital manager Huang Fang-yen, a confidant of jailed ex-President Chen’s family, escaping to the United States despite suspicions he was involved in the cases of alleged money laundering surrounding the former head of state.
The prosecutor-general had also visited Huang’s home in the company of then-Justice Minister Morley Shih for a Lunar New Year party in 2007 and attended an expensive shark-fin dinner with prominent talk show personalities.
Control Yuan members Li Ful-dien and Chien Lin Whei-jun tried to have the top prosecutor impeached a first time on January 5, but the attempt stranded in a 6-6 vote.
Chen had failed to face questions about those allegations with the necessary honesty, Li and Chien Lin said in the motivation for their proposal.
He was “a man of the law walking on the edge of the law,” Chien Lin told a news conference, complaining about the Control Yuan’s lack of investigative power.
The prosecutor-general did not show up for work Tuesday, but media reported he felt there was nothing to reproach about his behavior, and he was confident he would be able to withstand criticism.
Before learning of his resignation, the justice minister expressed regret about the vote, adding that the whole affair had damaged the judiciary, prosecutors, and even the Cabinet and the president. Wang said she would take additional measures once she had received the official notification of the Control Yuan verdict.
Chen has long been a target for criticism from ruling Kuomintang lawmakers for his supposed bias in favor of the jailed former president, who was sentenced to life in prison and a fine of NT$200 million for corruption and money laundering last September. He is appealing the sentence.
The KMT even blamed its defeat in all three January 9 legislative by-elections on the failure of the government to take action against the top prosecutor.
The opposition Democratic Progressive Party said the two Control Yuan votes were clear examples of political interference with the work of the watchdog body. President Ma Ying-jeou had obviously influenced the Control Yuan decision in order to allow him to get rid of Chen, said DPP spokesman Tsai Chi-chang.
Nevertheless, the opposition also had words of criticism for Chen, accusing him of letting prosecutors only go after former DPP politicians while letting KMT officeholders untouched for similar violations of the law. Tsai also said Chen had failed to promote judicial reform.