Then, prosecutors and judges — supposed to be adversaries in the courtroom — jointly mocked Chen Shui-bian in a Christmas party skit.
As the case progressed, Chen was denied privacy in meetings with his lawyers until a higher court declared that such a denial was illegal.
When a judge ruled that Chen could be freed on bail to prepare his case, that judge was replaced by one that refused bail.
In sharp contrast, in the Lin Yi-shih case, prosecutors and judges played separate roles and Lin, despite his conviction, was released on bail to prepare an appeal.
In the Chen Shui-bian case, the testimony of the state’s two main witnesses appears questionable and forced. Prosecutors badgered and bargained to get the witnesses to say what the prosecution wished — namely that political donations were in actuality bribes.
Witness Jeffrey Koo Jr (辜仲諒) said after the case that his statement that he bribed Chen was false, and was made under duress and the threat of imprisonment. Diana Chen (陳敏薰), another witness, was also coerced.
In effect, she was told that she would be prevented from getting a job in Taiwan unless she said what the prosecution wanted. Changing her testimony that the money given to Chen Shui-bian was not a political donation but a bribe, the court then gave her a suspended sentence for perjury.
Judges and prosecutors appeared to be working together against the defendant.
In the Lin Yi-shih case, there was no badgering of the key witness, Chen Chi-hsiang (陳啟祥).
Chen Chi-hsiang had come forward willingly after Lin had demanded an additional NT$83 million (US2.7 million) on top of the NT$63 million Chen Chi-hsiang had paid him to secure a slag treatment contract. In this case, the three district court judges sided not with the prosecution, but with Lin Yi-shih’s defense team using an “actual influence” concept to interpret the money paid as not being a bribe but simple “extortion,” therefore reducing the severity of the sentencing.
In Chen Shui-bian’s case questionable testimony was used to cast a wide net and accuse and punish anyone remotely involved in the case, including his wife, assistants and secretaries.
In the Lin Yi-shih case, the judges determined that only Lin was liable even though his mother, wife and uncles had tried to dispose of the money he had received.
These actions were “technically” interpreted as not being money laundering.
Again, in Chen Shui-bian’s case, judges worked with prosecutors to find the best ways of establishing guilt while in the Lin Yi-shih case, judges worked against prosecutors to look for pointers to his innocence.
In A-bian’s case, his family’s assets have been frozen beyond what was claimed as being bribes, while the prosecution searched for other ways to tie up the family’s money. In the Lin Yi-shih case, because of the court’s interpretation, the money he had acquired is all to be given back to him.
On comparing these two cases, Taiwanese may well ask whether justice has been served, or are the double standards of the KMT’s one-party state period alive and well?
Jerome Keating is a writer based in Taipei.