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June 23, 2017

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Chen Shui-bian dismisses defense lawyers

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Former President Chen Shui-bian dismissed his three defense attorneys again at a Taipei district court hearing yesterday, charging presiding judge Tsai Shou-hsun with illegally trying him for forgery, corruption and money laundering.

Tsai had to assign Tseng Teh-yung as a public defense attorney in less than 10 minutes after the hearing was opened at 10 a.m. at the courthouse, outside of which close to a hundred supporters rallied to demand that he be released without bail.

"It is not that I cannot retain defense lawyers," ex-President Chen told Tsai, "nor am I dissatisfied with what they have done in my defense."

Chen complained he is being illegally tried. "I don't need any defense lawyers," he said. He first dismissed them when he was ordered back to the Taipei detention center on May 7.

"Nothing said or to be said (in my defense) is of any use whatsoever," Chen said, adding: "Any public defense attorney can't be made to understand my case. I don't want to see him."

His three defense lawyers — Cheng Wen-lung, Shih Yi-lin and Hung Kwei-shan — were present at the hearing to argue for their client's case.

They were ousted by the presiding judge, however.

He ordered a brief recess to summon the public attorney to the re-opened hearing at 10:20 a.m. and had to recess his court until June 2 for a pretrial hearing on another of Chen's cases for graft.

Ex-President Chen was first indicted on Nov. 29 last year. He was detained, but released without bail two weeks later. Then he was ordered back to detention, released and placed behind bars again on March 25.

On May 5, Chen was indicted for graft again, charged with taking NT$310 million (US$9.4 million) from Diana Chen, former Taipei 101 chief executive officer, and Jeffrey Koo, Jr., vice chairman of the Chinatrust Financial Holding Company.

Cheng and the two other dismissed defense lawyers protested the illegal trial at the district court. "In particular," Cheng said, "the judge encroached upon the human rights of the former president by holding him in detention with trumped up justifications."

Tsai was accused of citing Chen's "residual influence" over other defendants, hunger strikes to obstruct the due process of law and diatribe against the judiciary as the reasons for detaining the former head of state for close to six months.

Since he was first detained, ex-President Chen went on three hunger strikes to protest the injustice done him by the judiciary.

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