Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Chen Detained for Two More Months

I'll let KNN make the call (China Times in translation):
The Taipei District Court ruled yesterday that former President Chen Shui-bian’s detention be extended for another two months from July 26 because Chen was implicated in serious crimes and it was possible for Chen to flee the country, destroy evidence or collude with others.

The collegiate bench deemed it necessary to extend Chen’s detention because Chen had tried in different ways to interfere with his trial. The collegiate court said that Chen had made use of the State Secrets Privilege clause granted by the Constitution to impede the trial of his State Affairs Fund case. During his detention, Chen also exaggerated his cardiovascular ailment and directed his supporters to cause trouble when meeting them at the Taipei Detention Center.

On Nov. 12 last year, Chen was taken into custody by the SIU (Special Investigation Unit of the Prosecutor-General’s Office) for the first time after being indicted. Although Chen had been released after one month for 17 days, he was taken back into custody again on Dec. 30 last year. Yesterday’s ruling was the third time that the Taipei District Court extended Chen’s detention since the trial of Chen’s corruption and money-laundering cases began on last January 19.

The collegiate court pointed out that it was highly possible for Chen to abscond because the Chen family still stashed huge assets overseas and the relevant funds had not been wired to the bank account designated by the prosecutors for investigation.
The Court's position is that Chen is a bad boy and must be punished by being sent to his room for 1440 hours. This is all explained in this commentary published on the KMT site at the same time, in which the analysis is attributed to an anonymous prosecutor.
Nor did Chen Shui-bian behave himself well in the Taipei Detention Center, the prosecutor continued, saying Chen had launched hunger strikes and pretended to be ill periodically. Chen hoped such actions would lead public opinion to force the Taipei District Court to order his release, the prosecutor concluded. In addition, while meeting with his staff in the Taipei Detention Center, Chen had instructed his staff members to engage in a series of ploys to put public pressure on the collegiate bench to release him, including inciting his supporters to stage protests, asking DPP chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen to visit him at the Taipei Detention Center, and asking the defense lawyers he had dismissed make appearances on TV political talkshow programs and contribute op-ed articles to newspapers.

This public prosecutor said frankly that former President Chen’s shenanigans would never persuade the judges to release him from the Taipei Detention Center.
The Court may well proclaim the fear that Chen will flee (how, with police guarding him as an ex-President and the most recognizable face in Taiwan, and no one on earth willing to take him) or that he will tamper with witnesses and evidence. But the prosecutor here lays out the real reasons that flash up ghostly in the news report: the Court is engaged in a game of "we'll show him." And they have!

Think about it: the Court's position is that he needs to be detained, since he has publicly complained about being detained.

Think about it: Chen using outsiders to help him -- in other words, organizing his defense -- is grounds for detention because it "interferes in the trial."

Echo argues that the Court used taped records to find that Chen was interfering with the trial but taping is illegal under the recent Grand Justices' ruling.

The Taiwan Today piece is quite informative in its portrayal of the blatant lack of logic behind the Court's ruling:

One of the reasons given for the ruling was that after leaving office last year, Chen was banned from overseas travel. On July 2, 2008, he instructed assistant Chen Hsin-yi to submit an expedited passport application on his behalf.

Chen stated he had applied for the passport to visit the United States and give a speech at the invitation of the North American Taiwanese Medical Association. Because he was prohibited from traveling abroad, Democratic Progressive Party Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen went in his place.

The judges concluded that, since Tsai visited the United States Sept. 2, 2008 to take part in the event, it was evident the former president’s application for a passport had no connection with NATMA’s invitation. This confirmed fears that Chen planned to flee the country.

Yes, the fact that someone else went in his place while Chen stayed in Taiwan proves he was planning to flee. Work out the dates....Chen applies for expedited passport in July, Tsai goes to the conference in September. Chen goes nowhere for nearly three months. Hellooooo! If he was planning to flee, he would have. He doesn't need a passport to leave the country. Taiwan Today also quotes the Court:
The transcript of the ruling found the former president still able to exert pressure on the judiciary through instructions to outside forces while in detention. “It is honestly quite difficult to imagine what sort of measures he would take to slay the judiciary and interfere with the trial if freed,” the court wrote.
"Slay the judiciary." Mad Chentm returns: he can do anything with his magical powers -- declare independence, slay the judiciary, cause continents to slip like Atlantis beneath the waves. Taiwan Today then goes on to look at the finding that Chen was faking his heart problems:

On several occasions, Chen claimed after a court session he had chest pains. The judges reviewed records of medical examinations conducted in March 2007 while the former president was in office. These indicated slight hardening of the arteries, but a National Taiwan University Hospital report said the former president “has a very low probability of developing heart disease in the next two to five years.”

This is similar to results reported from a medical examination of the former president in May at Taipei County Hospital’s Banciao Branch. The judges ruled the former president deliberately exaggerated his condition, feigning illness to mislead the court and attain the ending of his detention. (FS-JSM)

So,, the judge reviewed the records from two years ago, and concluded that Chen was faking -- because everyone knows that only full blown heart disease causes chest pains.

They wanted to put him away, and they have.

Jerome Cohen, President Ma Ying-jeou's law school mentor, who pushed Ma for President for two years prior to the election, had a sad piece (behind paywall) in SCMP last month that laid out his experiences with legal professionals in Taiwan.....
Yet, surprisingly, a recent intense week in Taipei, spent mostly with legal scholars, left me a bit depressed. As usual in a healthy society, I heard many stimulating critiques of the current situation. Some friends claimed: that ex-president Chen Shui-bian, now a criminal defendant, is being unfairly confined to a miserable detention cell for many months, while others under investigation and indictment for corruption remain free; that the Kuomintang administration of President Ma Ying-jeou is zealously bringing corruption charges against politicians of the Democratic Progressive Party while ignoring the many instances of similar misconduct by KMT officials; that the judge who was ultimately put in charge of the trial of Chen and his family has repeatedly ruled arbitrarily against them; that the legislature failed to enact necessary criminal justice reforms; and so on.

These allegations are troubling, of course. Yet, when I asked my academic friends why more of them - there are a few distinguished exceptions - did not speak out, publish essays and document their concerns, all too often I heard: "What good would it do? We can't change anything. They won't listen. Besides, we don't want to be controversial. People will accuse us of 'being too Green' or sympathising with corruption." Some seem to be too busy with important research, consulting work or family responsibilities. A few hinted at hopes for government appointments that might be thwarted by controversy.
Cohen ended the essay by comparing the faint hearts he met in Taiwan with the lawyers who fight the good fight in China every day, and end up beaten, jailed, or worse. I am delighted that Cohen is speaking out, but can only shake my head -- what did he expect would happen when Ma was elected?

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Anonymous said...

I find much irony in the fact that the "authorities" fear Chen will leave the country... considering he wasn't even allowed to fly over or even disembark from the plane during most of his international travel.

SY said...

I've been dizzy reading all the likely patentable innovations of this particular "judge".

However, I have managed to sort out the "logic" of the judge; he is namely the reincarnation of the faint-hearted Mrs. Bennet (of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice".) The judge still retains his 18th century lady's sensitive heart. Any light noise will set him off to a fainting spell, needing all the fanning and soothing.

Therefore, any word about the Chen case or even one yellow ribbon 'round the old oak tree will faint him, resulting in an "interferance" with his ability to "judge."

"Nobody can tell what I suffer! But it is always so. Those who do not complain are never pitied." said Mrs. Bennet.

Ma Ying-Jeou and KMT will definitely "pity" this "judge"; handsomly, I presume.

Jade said...

When Chen's case was brought to light in the very beginning, I was convinced, without giving it much thought, that he was guilty. After all KMT presented much of 'evidence'to paint him so. Since then I have read so much about the case and suddenly realized that I could be one of those who contribute to the arrogance of the Ma administration that interpretes people's silence as agreement. I should have learned from the past.

Tim Maddog said...

C'mon, you guys! Sign the petition to release Chen from perpetual detention and to free Taiwan from this farce.

Tim Maddog

China Debunked said...

Cohen dissappointed? Perhaps Cohen really expected Ma to carry out his teachings.

Sorry that this took a couple of minutes to write, I had difficulty typing the above without laughing out loud.