Ex-President Ma's conviction overturned with verdict of Taiwan's High Court

Ma Ying-jeou has been acquitted of crimes related to leaking confidential data in 2013 wiretapping case

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File photo: Ma Ying-jeou

File photo: Ma Ying-jeou (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Former President Ma Ying-jeou has been formally acquitted of his previous conviction for leaking state secrets following a ruling of Taiwan’s High Court on Friday (July 12).

After previously being sentenced in 2018 to four months in jail, which could have been commuted to a fine of NT$120,000 (US$1,100), Ma’s attorneys entered an appeal which was accepted by Taiwan’s High Court. The final verdict announced Friday states that there is insufficient evidence to uphold the previous conviction.

Months after the final session of the retrial adjourned in February 2019, the High Court has finally come to a verdict in the case, which cannot be further appealed.

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. Ma has since been implemented in several cases involving allegations of corruption, with some that are still ongoing.