Former President Ma Ying-jeou appears in court for his political leaks controversy, in Taipei, Taiwan. File photo/Reuters
Taiwan’s former president Ma Ying-jeou was found not guilty in a political leaks case on Friday, a major legal victory for a politician facing a slew of lawsuits since leaving office.
Ma was cleared of charges of leaking secrets and instructing a top prosecutor to disclose confidential information about a 2013 judicial probe in a final verdict handed down by the High Court.
“The court ruled that relevant evidence provided by prosecutors failed to prove any crime committed by the defendant,” a court spokeswoman told reporters, adding the decision was final.
Ma’s Beijing-friendly Kuomintang (KMT) party held power from 2008 to 2016, before it was trounced by Tsai Ing-wen’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
While still in office, Ma was protected by political immunity.
But since leaving office, the 68-year-old has been hit with a string of corruption allegations.
Ma was not present when the verdict was announced. He had maintained his innocence throughout and accused the prosecution of mounting a flimsy case.
“He is grateful and relieved by the not-guilty verdict in the retrial,” his office said in a statement.
The High Court had initially sentenced Ma to four months in prison last year for violating the Communication Security and Surveillance Act but the Supreme Court revoked that conviction in January and ordered a new trial.
The case stemmed from a judicial probe in 2013 about whether the parliament speaker at the time — a political rival of Ma — had improperly influenced a court case against an opposition lawmaker.
Investigators had been accused of tapping the lawmaker’s phone to acquire the information that implicated the speaker.
The leaks controversy sparked a political storm in 2013 and saw two top officials resign, while thousands of protesters took to the streets to demand Ma step down.
The DPP, then in opposition, compared the probe to the Watergate scandal in the United States.
Ma was the third ex-president in Taiwan to be indicted on criminal charges.
His predecessor Chen Shui-bian was serving a 20-year sentence for corruption before he was freed on medical parole in 2015.
Lee Teng-hui was charged with embezzling state funds during his 1988-2000 presidency, but was acquitted.
A Taiwanese artist has created giant inflatables of a tank and "tank man" - the lone protester who stood in front of a convoy of tanks on Beijing's Tiananmen Square - to mark 30 years since China's bloody crackdown on the pro-democracy movement.
From a modern summer villa with an outdoor pool to a fully equipped film studio or a casino, paper model makers in Taiwan are ensuring the dead enjoy an eternity of luxury.
Taiwan’s export orders fell for the fifth straight month in March, and at a much sharper pace than expected, as the island’s manufacturers kept struggling with a drop in global tech demand. Orders in March dropped 9 per cent from a year earlier to $38.59 billion, Ministry of Economic Affairs data showed on Monday.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen will visit Hawaii next week on a tour of diplomatic allies in the Pacific, official media said on Thursday, a move likely to anger China, which claims the self-ruled island as its own amid tension across the strait.
His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, inaugurated on Wednesday the 22nd edition of Sharjah Islamic Arts Festival, under the theme, ‘Prospect’ organised by the Cultural Affairs Department at the Sharjah Department of Culture, at the Sharjah Art Museum.
The Philippine Embassy ushered in the Spirit of Christmas with the over 300,000 Filipinos in Abu Dhabi and the Western Region in the recent weekend.
The Dubai Criminal Court heard on Wednesday the case of three Asian suspects charged with posting pictures and publications containing phrases offending the Islamic religion and its sanctities via the Facebook and the Instagram.
A delegation consisting of officials from the Educational ministry of Malawi has recently visited the Rashid Centre for People of Determination in Dubai to review the educational and rehabilitation programmes for its over 200 students of determination.