Fri, Nov 05, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Pan-blue camp election lawsuit fails

NO EVIDENCE Judges dismissed the claims of pan-blue lawyers that Chen Shui-bian was unfairly elected, announcing that Chen had prevailed by a margin of 25,000 votes

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Pan-blue supporters carrying an image of former presidents Chiang Kai-shek, Chiang Ching-kuo and Sun Yat-sen wait outside the Taiwan High Court in Taipei yesterday for the court's ruling on the first pan-blue camp lawsuit seeking to overturn the re-election of President Chen Shui-bian.

PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

After months of hearings and deliberations on one of two pan-blue camp lawsuits, the re-election of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) was declared valid by the Taiwan High Court yesterday.

"The judges arrived at this decision because the results of the investigation and hearings [with the lawyers] did not prove the allegations leveled by the plaintiffs," Taiwan High Court spokesman Wen Yau-yuan (溫耀源) said.

Presiding Judge Wu Ching-yuan (吳景源) announced the verdict at 4pm yesterday, which was then officially relayed by Wen during a press conference at 5pm.

Wen said the verdict had rejected the plaintiff's three claims. He said the pan-blue camp had failed to provide adequate evidence for any of the arguments presented to the court.

The first claim was that the ballots had been miscounted, prompting an exhaustive recount of all ballots. Those ballots disputed by lawyers from both camps were then transferred to the judges for appraisal.

Based on this recount, the court announced yesterday that Chen and Lu won the election by 25,563 votes. The original margin was reported as 29,518.

The second claim was that the pan-green camp had attempted to influence or manipulate the result of the presidential election by staging an assassination attempt on March 19, the eve of the election.

Pan-blue lawyers contended that Chen and Lu had staged the assassination attempt, then launched a so-called "national security mechanism" so that the Chen-Lu ticket and the referendum held in tandem with the election would attract more support out of sympathy for the candidates.

Wen said that forensic analysis by Henry Lee, an overseas consultant requested by the pan-blue camp but hired by the government, had concluded that it was impossible for Chen and Lu to have staged the incident. Wen said that the court had taken note of Lee's findings.

During previous hearings, military personnel and heads of police departments had also testified that stricter security measures implemented following the incident did not deprive members of the military or the police forces of the ability to vote, as the pan-blue camp had alleged.

The pan-blue camp finally claimed that the pan-green camp had improperly manipulated voters into supporting Chen. Wen said no evidence had been presented to the court proving that the pan-green camp had done this.

The plaintiffs and defendants are allowed to appeal within 20 days of receiving the verdict from the court.

Defense counsel Wellington Koo (顧立雄) said he hoped that the plaintiff would respect the decision by the court.

"This [the lawsuit] was what they wanted. Now here is the result. I hope that they [the pan-blue camp] can face the facts and respect the legal outcome," Koo said.

Pan-blue lawyer Lee Tsung-teh (李宗德), however, said the alliance would "keep fighting for the truth."

Outside the high court, no more than 200 to 250 pan-blue supporters protested. Nearly 400 police officers from the Taipei City Police Department's Chungcheng First Precinct helped the court's security service maintain public order. No injuries or arrests were reported.

However, a number of pan-blue candidates for next month's legislative elections took advantage of yesterday's verdict to seek more voter support.

The judges also ruled that the pan-blue camp would have to pay expenses for the case, estimated to be more than NT$70 million. But the court said that the exact figure had not been calculated.

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