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KMT lawmakers seeking ways for disciplinary committee to reopen Ker probe

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Ruling Kuomintang (KMT) lawmakers are seeking to have the legislative disciplinary committee reopen a probe into alleged influence peddling involving main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Ker Chien-ming.

The disciplinary committee already cleared Ker of any wrongdoing on Nov. 29, but KMT legislative leader Lin Hung-chi said yesterday the verdict seems biased as no deputy from the ruling party was present when the decision was made.

Lin said the KMT caucus will demand the disciplinary committee reinvestigate the case, but will not be able to do so until the committee sends its official report to the Legislature's plenary session.

He said Legislator Chen Ming-wen, who chaired the committee's Nov. 29 meeting where the Ker verdict was handed down, has yet to sign off on the report.

Chen, a DPP member, said he has yet to see the report, as he had been away on a business trip abroad for three days before returning on Thursday. He said he attended the Legislature plenary meeting on Friday morning, but headed back home to Chiayi on that afternoon.

He said he will sign off on the report once he sees it, promising that there will be no delay.

DPP Legislator Gao Jyh-peng said his caucus respects its KMT counterpart's opinions and the due process, but he demanded to know why none of the KMT deputies turned up for the disciplinary meeting on Nov. 29. He questioned whether all KMT deputies happened to be too busy or whether they intended to let Ker off the hook.

Ker was accused of asking Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng to use his influence to prevent a government appeal of a lawsuit in which Ker was acquitted.

It was alleged that the prosecution made the decision because of pressure from then Justice Minister Tseng Yung-fu, who was said to have promised Wang to have the Ker case closed.

The allegations, made public by Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming in September, resulted in Tseng's resignation.

Both Wang and Ker denied having peddled influence. But President Ma Ying-jeou quickly had the KMT expel Wang, only for the speaker to secure a court injunction preventing him from losing his party membership and his at-large legislative seat.

Ker submitted himself to an investigation by the legislative disciplinary committee, which exonerated him. But Wang and the KMT are still in a legal battle over the speaker's party membership.

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