Legislature ready for probe into influence peddling case

Taipei, Oct. 6 (CNA) The Legislative Yuan could open its investigation into a high-profile influence peddling case allegedly benefiting an opposition lawmaker as soon as this Friday, according to a member of the Legislature's Discipline Committee. However, opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker Ker Chien-ming has not yet submitted documents related to the investigation despite saying he would request the investigation himself, according to Lu Hsueh-chang, a lawmaker with the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) who sits on the committee. Lu said he expects Ker to keep his word while also echoing Ker's call for an open and transparent investigation that will allow the public to scrutinize any decision made by the DPP-dominated committee. While the Discipline Committee has the legal right to summon other people associated with the case, Lu indicated they were not likely to question the president or other top-ranking officials as the incident is seen as an internal affair of the Legislature. The DPP's Wu Yi-chen, who is also on the committee, said the investigation will help clarify the circumstances surrounding the accusations of influence peddling and "avoid defamation of lawmakers and accusations of abuses of power." Ker and Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng were implicated in influence peddling by the Special Investigation Division (SID), which on Sept. 6 said the two senior lawmakers and justice ministry officials used their positions to quash an appeal in a case that had been ruled in Ker's favor. According to the SID, Wang asked then-Justice Minister Tseng Yung-fu and Chen Shou-huang, head of the Taiwan High Prosecutors Office, to stop the prosecutor from appealing the case, in which Ker had been acquitted on charges of breach of trust. The incident has caused a major political storm, resulting in Tseng's resignation and an attempt by the KMT to strip Wang's membership -- a battle that is ongoing in court. (By Claire Chen and Jeffrey Wu)