Taiwan High Court to announce final verdict in Ex-President Ma wiretapping case

Verdict in retrial over alleged crimes committed in 2013 to be announced Friday, July 12 at 10:00 am

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Former President Ma Ying-jeou at KMT rally, July 7

Former President Ma Ying-jeou at KMT rally, July 7 (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Taiwan’s High Court will give a final verdict in a retrial on allegations that former president, Ma Ying-Jeou (馬英九), leaked confidential and sensitive information by ordering an official to discuss wiretapped conversations during his time in office.

Months after the final session of the retrial adjourned in February 2019, the High Court has finally come to a verdict, which is to be announced on Friday (July 12) at 10:00 a.m.

Ma was originally convicted in 2018 of attempting to damage the “character and rights” of a Democratic Progressive Party politician, Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘), by ordering former prosecutor-general Huang Shih-ming (黃世銘) to discuss telephone wiretap transcripts that were obtained in an investigation on improper lobbying.

In the trial, Ma was found guilty of revealing information from the judicial investigation which should have remained confidential, and then passing that information on to other Kuomintang leaders. After Ma’s conviction, he appealed to the High Court and the conviction was overturned based on a “lack of clarity” over certain aspects of the case, with a retrial ordered on Jan. 3, 2019.

The alleged crime occurred in 2013 while Ma was in office, and caused a major controversy among the KMT party, as Ma was allegedly using the confidential information from the investigation into Ker, in order to defame an intra-party rival and then-Speaker of the Legislative Yuan, Wang Jin-ping (王金平).

The former President maintained his legal immunity until he left office in 2016. In the original trial that concluded in May 2018 and before the appeal resulted in a retrial, Ma was sentenced to four months in prison, which could be commuted to a fine of NT$120,000 (US$1,000).

According to UDN, the case may not be appealed further, so the decision of the High Court on Friday will stand as final. However, the former president has been implemented in several other cases involving allegations of corruption that are still ongoing.