Thu, Nov 18, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Ministry welcomes US' stand on jurisdiction

By Melody Chen and Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) welcomed yesterday a US court's decision to turn down fugitive Chen Yu-hao's (陳由豪) lawsuit against the country's representative office in Los Angeles, based on the US Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.

The US District Court of the Central District of California rejected the former Tuntex Group chairman's accusation against the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles (TECO-Los Angeles) on Monday.

Maxwell Lin (林英郎), a lawyer representing TECO-Los Angeles, said he received judge John Walter's ruling on Monday afternoon, which said TECO-Los Angeles' capacity is "similar to the function of foreign embassies."

The US Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act grants foreign states immunity from jurisdiction except under listed exceptions.

According to ministry spokesman Michel Lu (呂慶龍), the ruling, though citing that the US government does not recognize Taiwan as a foreign state, decided that Taiwan's representative office in Los Angeles functions similarly to foreign embassies in the US.

The court, said Lin, therefore decided TECO-Los Angeles does not fall under US jurisdiction because it is Taiwan's representative office in the US.

"TECO-Los Angeles won a just ruling," he said.

Lu said that the ruling also mentioned the Taiwan Relations Act as the US government's commitment to maintain formal relations with Taiwan and to continue bilateral trade and cultural exchanges.

The tycoon-turned-fugitive Chen filed a lawsuit against TECO-Los Angeles shortly before Taiwan's presidential election in March, Lin said.

Chen, who claimed he presented a NT$3 million donation to President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) wife Wu Shu-chen (吳淑珍), filed the lawsuit against TECO-Los Angeles as it represents the Taiwanese government in the US.

In his lawsuit, Chen Yu-hao accused the Taiwanese government of political oppression and demanded that the US court order the Taiwanese government to remove him from its fugitive list.

According to US law, Chen Yu-hao will not be able to file the lawsuit against TECO-Los Angeles based on the same facts, Lin said.

Minister of Justice Chen Ding-nan (陳定南) yesterday said that the US court decision had indirectly recognized that Taiwan is an independent country.

"In fact, the US has already recognized our independence of jurisdiction since we have signed a judicial agreement with the US Department of Justice two years ago. And the recognition of the independence of jurisdiction equals the recognition of the independence of the government," Chen Ding-nan said during a press conference at the ministry yesterday.

The agreement mentioned by Chen Ding-nan is the "Agreement on Criminal Justice Cooperation."

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