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Home Editorials of Interest Articles of Interest Taiwanese scholars say Chen Shui-bian’s trial is political persecution

Taiwanese scholars say Chen Shui-bian’s trial is political persecution

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Taipei District Judge Hong Yin-Hua says the Ministry o Justice has failed to establish criteria for medical parole as ordered by the Control Yuan.

A new book, Judicial Justice and Human Rights—The Chen Shui-bian Case, details a pattern of political persecution say the Taiwanese scholars who co-authored the study. Published by the Taiwan Association of University Professors, the book is a collection of eight academic theses examining the circumstances of the prosecution of the former president of the Republic of China in-exile.

The new book examines Chen Shui-bian’s case on various legal points, including defendants’ rights, the president’s state affairs fund, presidential authority and the intersection of politics and the courts. Chen is currently serving a lengthy prison sentence for alleged corruption following a controversial trial. Chen had to be moved from Taipei Prison where he was held in a tiny cell after a serious health decline and is now confined to a locked psychiatric room at a government hospital in Taipei.

“I would say that Chen’s cases are ‘benchmark cases’ of transitional justice in Taiwan because they have been political cases rather than legal cases, as well as the result of turning the judicial system into a political instrument, from the first minute,” Chen Yao-hsiang, one of the authors, told the Taipei Times.

Chen Yao-hsiang, a National Taipei University professor, said the same judge , Tsai Shou-hsun, heard Chen’s state affairs fund case and President Ma Ying-jeou’s special allowance case, which were essentially similar, but handled the trials differently and handed down drastically different rulings.

“The trial against Chen was like a trial against a war criminal, rather than a citizen,” said Professor Chen.

Other scholars asserted that “illegal and absurd practices” during Chen’s prosecution included pre-trial detention, extended detention for unconvincing reasons, prosecutors demanding that a witness provide false testimony and forcing Chen’s three-year-old granddaughter to submit as a witness.

Speaking for the book launch one of Chen Shui-bian’s lawyers, Cheng Wen-lung, also known as Jerry Cheng, said that the judicial system is the only institution that has not yet been democratized, as evidenced by the judicial malpractice in Chen’s trials.

On the issue of Chen’s medical parole, Aletheia University law professor Wu Chin-ching was critical of the Ministry of Justice which has been sitting on the issue and said the Ministry was ignoring human rights. Professor Wu said it is not an issue only for the former president, because records show that about 600 of the 900 prisoners who were granted medical parole in the past never made it back to prison.

“They all died. They were already very ill and very close to death prior to their parole,” Professor Wu said, adding that Chen Shui-bian’s case demonstrated the necessity of prison reform.

Taipei District Court Judge Hong Yin-hua said the Ministry of Justice has not reacted to a Control Yuan correction in September last year of its failure to establish standard operating procedures and qualification criteria for medical parole. Judge Hong is the most outspoken judicial critic of Chen Shui-bian’s trial and has previously called the verdict illegal and unconstitutional because of improper selection of the judge. The Republic of China in-exile does not provide jury trials to defendants but instead leaves verdicts to the vagaries of individual judges. Judge Hong was recently recognized for her judicial integrity by an international group of academics and others in a public letter.

National Taiwan University Hospital physician Ko Wen-je, one of Chen Shui-bian’s volunteer medical team, urged the government to establish clear criteria for prisoners’ medical paroles. “Only an authoritarian regime would prefer ambiguity over clear regulations, because that is what allows it to play tricks,” said Doctor Ko.

Chen Shui-bian’s son, Chen Chih-chung, also known as Brian Chen, said he was glad law experts have spoken out about his father’s case, which he said was a “cruel political vendetta.”


Source: Michael Richardson - Boston Progressive Examiner

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An undated photograph shows the logo of the Institute for National Defense and Security Research in Taipei.
Photo: Aaron Tu, Taipei Times

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