Chen challenges judges in court

Wednesday, February 25, 2009
By David Young,The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Chen Shui-bian, the former president standing trial, was at his defense lawyer best at his first hearing at the Taipei District Court yesterday.

He challenged judges and prosecutors, while denying all charges of forgery, corruption, graft and money laundering.

“Today, I am in your hands,” President Chen told presiding judge Tsai Shou-hsun in court, referring also to two other charges and Special Counsel prosecutors, who indicted him on November 23 last year.

But history will try the judges and prosecutors in the future, he predicted.

“At a people's court in the future in the torrent flow of history,” President Chen said, “the prosecutors, the presiding judge and other judges certainly will be tried again.”

Prosecutors charged Chen with laundering at least US$20,748,307 out of the public fund under Chen's control for the conduct of affairs of state.

“How do you plead?” Tsai asked Chen.

Instead of a plea, Chen fired a broadside at three prosecutors of the Special Counsel: Chu Chao-liang, Wu Wen-chung and Yueh Fang-ju.

“All three of them were political tools,” Chen charged. They helped Ma Ying-jeou the Kuomintang candidate, he said.

Wu prevented Chang Wei-tsin from handing over to Frank Hsieh, the Democratic Progressive Party standard bearer, a photo of Ma posing with her divorced husband, a black entertainer named Chocolate, Chen alleged. He seems to hint Ma is gay.

Cheng Wen-tsan, DPP secretary-general who serves as Hsieh's campaign manager, refuted the Chen allegation at a press conference he called after the hearing.

Hsieh was not spared Chen's ire, either. “I gave him NT$20 million,” he claimed.

The money was given as “donation,” Chen said. He didn't say it came from the state affairs fund, however. Hsieh denied receipt of the cash contribution. “President Chen spent that money,” he declared.

Chu was accused of refusing to investigate Lee Teng-hui, though he knew the former president was bribed by the Chinese Communists. “He also urged me to support Tsai Ing-wen for DPP chairwoman,” Chen added.

Yueh asked Tsai to ask President Chen to pardon Yu Wen, a office cashier convicted of forgery to help Ma abuse his expense account to which he was entitled as mayor of Taipei.

“I didn't pardon Yu,” Chen said. Yu was sentenced to one year in prison.

The DPP secretary-general told reporters Tsai did visit President Chen to “convey the opinion” of the Special Counsel prosecutor.

Yet, Chen pointed out, these prosecutors “singled me out” to prosecute after he stepped down on May 20 last year. Former first lady Wu Shu-chen was indicted for corruption on November 3, 2006. She was charged with borrowing receipts from friends and relatives to claim a NT$14.8 million reimbursement from the state affairs fund.

He wasn't indicted along with his wife, for he was immune to prosecution, but was regarded as an unindicted co-defendant who would be formally charged on leaving office. Special Counsel prosecutors looked into the case after he left office.

“These prosecutors are collaborating with the judges to condemn me to prison for life or put me to death,” President Chen charged.

During the tirade against the prosecutors, Chen unwittingly said, “I admit.”

“What do you admit?” Tsai asked Chen. He meant to ask whether Chen pleaded guilty as charged.

“No,” Chen said. “That's what you said,” he added.

Chen went on to tell Tsai why should he ask what he has already known.

“That includes your probity,” Chen retorted. He believes the presiding judge is biased against him.

When he appeared in court in the morning, Chen looked weak and ill at ease. He ended his four-day hunger strike at the Taipei detention center on Monday.

In the afternoon, Chen was vigorously eloquent, ridiculing and daring the judges and prosecutors in a delaying action to stay out of the detention center where he has been held since December 30.

His defense attorneys asked for a change of venue for trial and an immediate release without bail.

Tsai, with two judges in conference, turned down the requests.

The disgraced ex-head of state was taken back to Tucheng. He will be subpoenaed to appear again in court today and tomorrow.

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