TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Taiwan's High Court has found former President Ma Ying-jeou guilty in a political leak case, and has sentenced him to four months in prison, which can be commuted to a fine of NT$120,000, according to the ruling on May 15, in a reversal of the ruling by the Taipei District Court last August.
Ma, who was not present to hear the verdict, was going to appeal against the conviction, his office said.
Ma was acquitted of the charges last year by the Taipei District Court, which found him not guilty in a case that charged him with instructing then-State Prosecutor-General Huang Shyh-ming (黃世銘) to disclose confidential information from a judicial probe. Also present at the September 2013 meeting between Ma and Huang were then-Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) and then-Presidential Office deputy secretary-general Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強).
The president then went public with allegations that Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) had unduly tried to influence a case against a prominent opposition Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker.
As a result of the allegations, a power struggle broke out within the ruling Kuomintang, which led to repeated attempts by Ma and his supporters to have Wang expelled from the party, which would lead to him losing his position as legislative speaker and legislator. However, Wang took the case to court and won repeatedly, allowing him to stay within the KMT and serve out his term as speaker.
Citing Article 44 of the Constitution, the district court noted that Ma, as president, had right to intervene in disputes between different branches of government.
The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office lodged an appeal against the ruling, contending that there was clear evidence of Ma’s role in instigating the leak, and that the court misconstrued the president’s power to mediate disputes between different branches of government. Taipei prosecutors said the ruling could lead to influence peddling and jeopardize the country’s political institutions by allowing Ma’s successors to follow suit, reported the Liberty Times.