Taiwan justice minister resigns

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwan’s justice minister resigned Friday over allegations he used his influence to quash an attempt by prosecutors to appeal a not guilty verdict against an opposition legislator.

Tseng Yung-fu’s announcement late Friday night came after he met Premier Jiang Yi-huah. Jiang accepted Tseng’s resignation.

Earlier in the day, the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office prosecutors had accused Tseng of intervening to stop a prosecutorial appeal against the not guilty verdict in a breach of trust case against Ker Chien-ming, a prominent opposition lawmaker.

Tseng’s resignation is another setback for the beleaguered government of President Ma Ying-jeou. Amid a widespread perception of administrative bungling and personal remoteness, Ma’s approval rating has fallen to about 15 percent, its lowest level since Ma took office 5 ½ years ago.

But the direct involvement of Ker in the case will also embarrass the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, which is still struggling to overcome negative fallout from the corruption conviction of former president Chen Shui-bian.

Chen was elected as Taiwan’s first president from the DPP in 2000 and served two four-year terms. He was convicted on a variety of graft charges shortly after leaving office and is serving a 20-year prison sentence.

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