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September 25, 2017

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Justice may be blind, but she's definitely ridiculous

Lady Justice may be blind but she becomes ridiculous sometimes in Taiwan, perhaps because there are quite a number of baby prosecutors and dinosaur judges. One such procurator in Taipei indicted a well-known octogenarian professor for perjury and another anachronistic justice convicted the "perjurer" last week.

A Shilin public prosecutor indicted Dr. Chen Peng-jen (陳鵬仁), professor emeritus of the Chinese Culture University in Taipei, for lying in court for former Legislator Feng Fu-hsiang (馮滬祥) last January. Feng, a running mate for Li Ao (李敖) in the 2000 presidential election, was convicted of raping a Filipino caretaker at home in 1996 and finally sentenced to three years and four months in prison by the Supreme Court in 2016.

Chen was summoned to court to testify for Feng, who claimed he was talking with the professor over the phone at the time when he was charged with raping the caretaker, named Rose.

The witness affirmed the cell phone conversation while aboard a taxi cab on his way to the Taipei office of the American Institute in Taiwan to get his passport back on Jan. 23, 2004. He had given the passport to a friend to get a visa to attend a seminar in the United States and was going to the AIT office together with her to get it back.

The prosecutor regarded Professor Chen as providing a false alibi for the ex-lawmaker, who once served as a secretary to President Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國). She formally charged Chen with perjury without concrete evidence.

The only evidence the prosecutor had was a lack of it — there was no recorded cell phone conversation. The conversation is recorded by the telephone company and kept for one year.

One year after the conversation the record is automatically obliterated. So by the time he was summoned as a witness to testify he had received a call from Feng, who was trying to find an alibi, the record had long been lost.

Moreover, she used the

nonexistence of the alleged conversation as evidence to indict

him for perjury.

Perjury is the intentional act of falsifying an affirmation to tell the truth, whether spoken or in writing, concerning matters material to an official court proceeding. Contrary to popular misconception, no crime has occurred when a false statement is intentionally or unintentionally made in court while subject to penalty.

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