Thu, Dec 28, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Presidential Office defies court order on secret 'fund'

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Presidential Office yesterday defied a court ruling that required the surrender of documents relating to President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) controversial "state affairs fund," part of which Chen claimed to have spent on secret diplomatic projects.

The Taipei District Court on Friday ordered the Presidential Office to submit the documents by noon yesterday. The court had rejected a request that documents relating to secret diplomatic activities be seized.

The Presidential Office sent a letter to the court yesterday explaining why it would not comply.

Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General Liu Shih-fang (劉世芳) said the Presidential Office would not comply with the court's ruling because the request had been made to the Presidential Office rather than the president.

"The president is the head of state and commander-in-chief. It is the president's authority to determine which diplomatic mission is confidential," Liu said. "Presidential Office Secretary-General Mark Chen (陳唐山) cannot respond to the court's request on behalf of the president because he is in charge of the operations of the Presidential Office."

In any case, Liu added, secret diplomatic projects sometimes did not involve documentation and agents involved were not necessarily Taiwanese nationals.

"As the president said, some of the secret diplomatic projects must remain secret forever and go with him to his grave," she said.

If the court demanded that Chen comply or summon him for questioning, Liu said this might violate Article 52 of the Constitution, which gives immunity to the president except in case of sedition or treason.

Liu said the Presidential Office had turned over all the documents it could and that it was up to Chen to decide on the rest.

On whether first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) would appear in court tomorrow, Liu said the Presidential Office would abide by the opinion of her medical team.

Wu was indicted on corruption and forgery charges over Chen's alleged misuse of the controversial "state affairs fund."

She has been staying at National Taiwan University Hospital since Dec. 15, when she nearly collapsed during the first session of her trial.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative caucus has requested that the Council of Grand Justices rule on the constitutionality of prosecutors questioning the president.

The Taipei District Court ruled last Friday that prosecutors did not violate the Constitution in doing so and that Wu's trial should continue.

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