Sunday, December 28, 2008

Judge Changed in Chen Shui-bian Case -- UPDATED--

Besides being reminded of former KMT secretary-general Hsu Shui-teh`s famous admission that "the courts belong to the KMT, the script being followed should be familiar to anyone who observed politics in Taiwan during the KMT`s decades of authoritarian or one-party dominant rule.

Namely, if the KMT loses based on the existing game rules, it ceases to follow the rules or rewrites the rule book.
-- Taiwan News Editorial

The Taipei Times reports on the changing of the judge in the trial of Chen Shui-bian:
In a meeting held among the [Taipei District] court’s presiding judges late on Thursday night, a vote decided that Presiding Judge Tsai Shou-hsun (蔡守訓) would take over the Chen-related case from Presiding Judge Chou Chan-chun (周占春) because Tsai had previously handled cases concerning Chen.

Panning the move as “political intervention,” DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) yesterday said “the judiciary is doomed.”

DPP Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) said that in an effort to avoid human manipulation, the courts had in recent years had to resort to using a computerized system designed to randomly select presiding judges.

“By deciding who shall be the presiding judge by a vote, we are now going backward and future judiciary trials will be filled with political elements,” he said.

The KMT News Network (KNN) reports on the process:

Following a joint meeting of its five presiding judges, the Taipei District Court yesterday announced that former President Chen Shui-bian’s four cases, including the State Affairs Fund case, the money-laundering case, the Longtan Science Park land deal case, and the Nangang Exhibition Hall bid case, would be merged with former First Lady Wu Shu-jen’s State Affairs Fund case for trial.

The Taipei District Court said that the merging of the cases was in accordance with precedents that a later case be merged with a former case if both cases were related and could not be separated for trial. Therefore, based on Taipei District Court’s decision, Tsai Shou-shun, not Chou Chan-tsun, will serve as the presiding judge in the trial of Chen Shui-bian’s corruption and money-laundering cases.

What they did was take the case away from Judge Chou, who was apparently too fair for some people's tastes -- Chou is reported to have said he'd have convicted Ma in Ma's embezzlement case -- and turn it over to Judge Tsai, who has been presiding over the trial of Chen's wife.

The unforgivable error of Judge Chou was to let Chen Shui-bian free without bail. This sensible ruling was too much for some, and KMT attack dog Legislator Chui Yi, a former jailbird himself, said Chou's qualifications to be judge should be examined, and that he ought to be impeached. Chui Yi also complained that Judge Chou cared only about Chen's human rights. Talk show hosts accused Judge Chou of having a political bias.

Thus, faced with the possibility of an unlooked for outcome in the Chen case, the judge was replaced.

I think this is great. Until this moment, in order to educate someone who didn't understand how the trial of Chen was a political persecution, all sorts of lengthy explanation was required. Now the government has made it easy: just note that when the system got a ruling it didn't like, there was a firestorm of complaint, and the judge was replaced. Even the dullest spectator can understand a kangaroo court.

UPDATE: This just in: appellate court vacates the decision to release Chen on no bail at 1:50 am this morning:

This was the second time that the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) of the Prosecutor General’s Office filed an interlocutory appeal (December 25). When Judge Chou Chan-tsun of the Taipei District Court, released Chen without bail, pending trial, the SIU appealed on December 16, and the appellate court vacated the ruling and remanded the case to the lower court for a new ruling. However, Judge Chou, in his new ruling, reaffirmed his original ruling, whereupon the SIU filed an appeal again.

The circumstances have changed this time. Earlier, the Taipei District Court, by unanimous resolution of its presiding judges, decided to merge Chen’s corruption case, the latter case, with Chen’s earlier case, the State Affairs Fund Case in which Chen’s wife was indicted in 2006 and is now being tried by another judge, Tsai Shou-hsun. Chen himself was named a co-defendant but was not indicted at the time because of his criminal immunity for a sitting President under the Constitution. Therefore, when the Taipei District Court rules again on orders of the appellate court in the nearest future, it will be Judge Tsai who will be the presiding judge in the merged case.
So sequence is: (1) Judge Chou at Taipei District Court orders Chen release w/o bail. (2) Appellate court voids this and hands it back to Chou. (3) Judge Chou re-affirms first decision, rejects Appellate court's decision, continues Chen on no-bail release (4) firestorm of complaint in Blue media and from prominent Blue legislators (5) Judge Chou is removed (6) prosecutors refile in Appellate Court and win again (8) now coming up in the script: Taipei District Court under Judge Tsai will revoke Chen's release.


Anonymous said...

Is this an emergency yet?

Minmin said...

Judge Chou's able to convict Chen's Son In Law with a heavy sentence of 7 years of imprisonment. I can't see how impartial that would be compared to Judge Tsai who totally let Ma Ying Jeou off despite concrete evidence to convict him?

Now that Tsai's handling the case, I'm sure all the KMT members would shut the trap and probably celebrate yet another handcuff of Chen again

Anonymous said...

What I find so disturbing about this is how the KMT seems to be doing this without impunity.

Obviously, there is no other authority or power that is a sufficient threat to them to make them alter course.

They're certainly not afraid of the people of Taiwan.

Anonymous said...

" I don't like the Constitution, even if it is a piece of junk ... I need a creative workaround..."

Bam! Temporary Articles.

Slippery slope anyone?

Anonymous said...

"They're certainly not afraid of the people of Taiwan."

75% of Taiwanese think that Chen should go back to jail. You obviously are not the majority. BTW, the judge Chou only cares about Chen's humman rights, but not the others'. Just check his other rulings. His own rulings speak for his bias for Chen.

skiingkow said...

And the understatement of the year award goes to...

They're certainly not afraid of the people of Taiwan.

Anonymous said...

Why they should be afraid of the people in Taiwan? I think they just care about pandas, the latest junknews, rumours and a new beef noodle restaurant... Sad story.

Michael Turton said...

75% of Taiwanese think that Chen should go back to jail. You obviously are not the majority. BTW, the judge Chou only cares about Chen's humman rights, but not the others'. Just check his other rulings. His own rulings speak for his bias for Chen.

You're a total dupe. The issue is not whether Chen should be in jail, but the process by which he is sent there. It's wonderful the way Beijing and the KMT are making use of the Chen case.

It's ironic -- a fair trial with competent judges and prosecutors would have almost certainly resulted in a conviction -- but now that the KMT has removed judges it doesn't like and played havoc with the prosecution and the trial process, it has tainted any conviction obtained.

Anonymous said...

75% of Taiwanese think that Chen should go back to jail.

What KMT paper did you read that from?

My point was that there is no one to stop the KMT from political involvement in the judicial

Anonymous said...

Sad thing is that it actually reminded me of the trial of Saddam Hussien. Not because CSB = SH, but the tainted prosecusion processes are the same. Especially when Shia controlled Iraqi government try to interfere with the trial by replacing Judges who were more about due process than bias. In the end, despite the fact Saddam is sentenced but the whole process is so tainted and unfair it actually became one of terrorists key propoganda...

Anonymous said...

It wouldn't be the first time the KMT tried to use "public opinion" to flout the law of the land. The referendum law saw a similar strategy where both camps used "public opinion" to challenge the outcome.

Anonymous said...

It's pretty frightening what passes for justice among KMT leaders (and the large portion of Taiwanese who passively tolerate them): justice is simply a matter of doing whatever it takes to get the end result that they belive is "just". The procedural steps involved in arriving at that "just" result are mere details.

In this way of thinking, replacing Chou Chan-chun (周占春) is the way to ensure "impartiality". Scary.

scott in tainan

Anonymous said...

Okay, I have not followed this story and do not understand Taiwan's legal system, but if the higher appellate court overturned and then Chou refused to follow, what should be the next step?

Red A

Anonymous said...

"Obviously, there is no other authority or power that is a sufficient threat to them to make them alter course."

The real power in Taiwan lies with the military and business elites and they certainly have the power to change the course of the KMT or any other civilian authority in Taiwan. Unfortunately, they seem quite pleased with the current direction the KMT is going.

Anonymous said...

I can easily understand why business elites are pleased, but wouldn't many in the military be nervous about the current direction? After all, they've spent their entire career getting ready to defend Taiwan (whether they consider it part of China or not) against the PRC army, and now their president is running towards unification.

Are there any hints of discontent from the military? I wouldn't expect current officers to say anything, but what about retired senior officers?

Michael Turton said...

trolls only get one crack, duped anon.

TicoExpat said...

Actually, he does have a point.

The common people are oppressed by the economic system -they are at the mercy of the big guys. The big businesses have all their eggs in the PRC and so, since they are not competitive, cannot afford to piss them off. The military have been stripped of their authority/relevance/usefulness by bad press, bad equipment, awful communications, and overall, politics. They are dammed if they love their country -which country, by the way? ROC or Taiwan have mutually excluisive goals- and anyway, do not have the power to resist.

Furthermore, and this Michael, I blame on the US, contractors and big guns in the military depend close ties to US military business, and we know the tide now says: make business, not war.

And the bottom line is, just as the Brits let go of HK under two menaces -war with a "poorer" country and massive inmigration prospect- so will the US let the island go, not because it is the right thing to do, but because " it makes sense at this junction".

Playing up to the crying game will really get us into WWIII, but by the time we realize it will be too late.

Anonymous said...

There's an opportunity cost to all of this legal maneuvering that no one's mentioned.

Imagine how far the prosecution might have advanced their case by now if they hadn't wasted so much time trying to lock Chen up in preventative detention.

Anonymous said...

Troll Anon is off the mark. The business elites are losing their shirts in China. The military hasn't been a major player since the days of Gen. Hao Bo Tsun. Look at the arms procurement packages. The military budget has been slashed and they stand to be made impotent.

The people who stand to gain are the politicians who are involved in private enterprise, either directly or indirectly-- through hidden share holding "family members with shares" etc...

Organized crime stands to gain as they have maintained decades of illegal trade with China. Their illegal means are disappearing, but they are positioning themselves to take advantage of legal enterprises to enrich themselves. Organized crime is deeply involved in hotel and travel, construction, transportation, education and entertainment.

The last and most advantaged group would be organized crime members who are also politicians. They have the power to negotiate deals, which serve to enrich themselves. They maintain stakes in the enterprises mentioned above, but they also hold the power to negotiate to their personal advantage which may be at odds with their constituents. They can manipulate zoning requirements, issue construction permits, amend tax laws, manipulate law enforcement and the judiciary, they can access insider trading schemes and even become the ultimate insider. They can accept bribes for other schemes that will illegally enrich others. They can even order transportation routes to favor certain districts, businesses or enterprises. They can also wield the powers mentioned above in an equally punitive manner and destroy competition.

These guys are in charge of Taiwan. You wonder why, when a boss dies, the major politicians all send a wreath...?

Unification is for these guys.

China is just inviting more of this behavior while Taiwanese who are not privy to such power are getting laid off.

Anonymous said...

The DPP still shouldn't be too distracted by this. Chen is loathed to the point where the public might accept this new judge if it thinks the previous one was biased. Sounds silly but that's people for you.

The changing of the judge is something worth mentioning, but Chen isn't worth the main party creating a shit-storm over. I can see many people thinking that it was finding technicalities to detract away from his guilt.

Anonymous said...

Criminals are in power in Taiwan. They hold many legislative seats and fight in open session with their fists.

Chen tried to bring real democracy to an island covered in johnny-come-lately's (KMT)from mainland China.

Chen is Taiwanese. So are the KMT's kids. Bamboo Union not withstanding.