Sun, Dec 21, 2008 - Page 8 News List

The probe that warrants probing

By Cao Changqing 曹長青

The content of former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) indictment was not surprising because it had been leaked by pan-blue media outlets. The Code of Criminal Procedure (刑事訴訟法), which forbids disclosure of material from active investigations, has been left flapping in the wind.

The indictment lists three main accusations against Chen. The first is his allegedly corrupt practices involving the state affairs fund, the second is money laundering and the third is accepting bribes.

The first accusation was effectively referred to as an “historical glitch” not long ago when President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was pronounced not guilty in his trial on similar charges of misusing his Special Allowance Fund as Taipei mayor. It should therefore be difficult to convict Chen for allegedly acting in a similar fashion.

As to the second accusation, only illegally obtained money can be laundered, and it is not a crime to transfer legally obtained funds from one account to another.

The third accusation is worth further discussion.

There are several contentious issues here. First, it is common knowledge that Jeffrey Koo Jr (辜仲諒), a key witness to the Chen family’s alleged bribetaking, is a wanted felon. At a crucial time in the investigation, Koo suddenly returned to Taiwan on a chartered flight from Japan to testify against Chen. It is as clear as day that the Ma administration made a secret deal with this wanted criminal.

Koo has been on the run for years, and after he returned to Taiwan he was not detained, nor was he charged, and he was allowed to return to Japan scot-free. We have to ask ourselves what sort of a judicial system Taiwan has for this to be allowed to happen. The government appears willing to stop at nothing to convict Chen.

Second, the person at the center of the Longtan land case, another Koo family member, Leslie Koo (辜成允), has stated that the funds the Chen family said were “political contributions” were in fact a “commission,” or what the prosecutors deem to be bribes.

According to evidence in the indictment, Leslie Koo’s company was experiencing financial difficulties and “owed massive debts and it was therefore impossible for him to make political contributions to Chen.”

However, on the same page, Koo gives evidence that he gave political contributions to the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). Despite his financial problems, he had money to give to the KMT, yet it was “impossible” that he could have made contributions to Chen. This doesn’t make sense.

Besides, given that prosecutors believe that Leslie Koo bribed Chen, why didn’t they charge him with bribery? Prosecuting only one of the parties here amounts to saying that the one giving money is making a political contribution, while the person receiving it is guilty of taking bribes. What sort of logic is that?

Third, many people have expressed disquiet at the Special Investigation Panel’s (SIP) use of language implying that Chen has already been found guilty. These intentions are made clearer in the text of the indictment: It contains a lot of terminology that is unrelated to the facts of the case, such as “insatiable greed,” “extremely improper personal conduct,” “unbridled interference in political affairs,” “habitual greed,” “abuse of power” and “bringing shame to his office.” What sort of legal discourse is this?

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