Sat, Apr 03, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Pan-blue camp agrees to full recount

WHO WILL PAY?The pan-green and pan-blue alliances decided to re-tally all of the ballots from the presidential electin, but neither wanted to pay for it

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

KMT and PFP alliance lawyers Hanson Chiang and Tsai Yu-ling, left, and DPP lawyers Wellington Koo and Joseph Lin, right, are busy prepare for the hearing in the Taiwan High Court yesterday.

PHOTO: CNA

Both the pan-blue and the pan-green camps agreed to recount all the ballots from the presidential election, but neither political alliance wants to be responsible for paying the necessary expenses to conduct the process.

The Taiwan High Court held the first hearing for the suit yesterday. The suit was filed by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-People First Party (PFP) alliance in order to suspend President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Vice President Annette Lu's (呂秀蓮) re-election victory.

How to process the recount and who will pay the necessary expenses of the legal process were the subject of arguments between the plaintiff and the defendant.

Prior to yesterday's hearing, the parties had not come to an agreement on how to recount the ballots.

In addition to recounting invalid ballots, the KMT-PFP alliance insisted on examining and recounting only the valid ballots cast in favor of Chen and Lu. But the pan-green camp said that all ballots, including valid and invalid, should be examined and recounted at the same time.

Presiding Judge Wu Ching-yuan (吳景源) asked both parties to come up with an agreement and submit it to the court within five days.

However, during the hearing, one of the pan-blues' lawyers said that the plaintiff would "respect the DPP's decision regarding the process of recounting the ballots." The statement was interpreted as an acknowledgement that the pan-blues' previous position -- recounting only the votes in favor of Chen -- was unlikely to find a sympathetic hearing in the court

In addition, after the hearing had concluded, Tsai Yu-ling (蔡玉玲), one of the KMT-PFP alliance's lawyers, again said that "it will not be difficult to come up with an agreement with the pan-green camp over this issue."

During the hearing, Wu said "do not come back to the court and ask us to pay your legal fees once the case is closed."

Both parties had different views regarding how to pay off the legal bill.

Lee Yi-kwang (李宜光), one of the KMT-PFP alliance's lawyers, said that the case was about administrative error, so the plaintiff was not supposed to pay.

"The case concerns the Presidential Election and Recall Law [總統副總統選舉罷免法]. The law also regulates that the process of a suit should follow the Code of Civil Procedure [民事訴訟法]," Lee said.

"However, the case itself is an administrative error, so the plaintiff is not supposed to pay, as the mistake was made by a third party, which is a government office," the lawyer said.

The "government office" Lee was referring to is the Central Election Committee (CEC). According to Lee's arguments, when the Presidential Election and Recall Law was passed, the Code of Administrative Procedure (行政訴訟法) was not amended at the same time. As a result, the law states that the process of a suit shall follow the regulations of the Code of Civil Procedure.

In response to the KMT-PFP alliance's argument, Wellington Koo (顧立雄), one of the Democratic Pro-gressive Party's (DPP) law-yers, said that the defendant was not required to pay either, because they are merely cooperating with the plaintiff's and the public's request.

"If we ask for a recount, we should expect to have to pay," said Koo. "But we did not ask for a recount."

In the meantime, Wu said that the court will negotiate with the CEC and determine whether it is possible to process the recount for free.

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