Sun, Aug 05, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Shih Ming-teh supporters vow to fight legal charges

DEFENSE TEAM Members of the anti-corruption campaign aimed at the president said they would gather a group of lawyers larger than the Kaohsiung Incident defense team

By Mo Yan-chih and Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The anti-corruption campaign aimed at President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday protested the indictment of its leader Shih Ming-teh (施明德), vowing to gather a team of lawyers to defend Shih in court.

The camp also urged the government to scrap the Assembly and Parade Law (集會遊行法), which it said infringed on constitutional rights and concentrated too much power in the hands of police.

The group made the remarks following the Taipei Prosecutors Office's indictment of Shih and 15 other campaign officials on Friday on charges of violating the Assembly and Parade Law by leading thousands of red-clad supporters in an unregistered protest during last year's Double Ten National Day.

Shih at the time said he was leading protesters to "besiege" the Presidential Office and urge Chen to step down.

DEFENSE TEAM

"We will announce the members of our defense team on Monday and our team will be bigger than the one that defended the people in the Kaohsiung Incident," campaign spokesman Jerry Fan (范可欽) told a press conference yesterday.

Chen, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) and former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) all served as defense lawyers in the trial of protesters involved in the 1979 Kaohsiung Incident, an anti-government demonstration organized by Formosa Magazine.

While Shih failed to show up at the press conference, Fan said he would appear in court to represent himself.

"Shih is not feeling well as he is suffering from lung cancer, but he will definitely show up at court and will not request sick leave to avoid it," Fan said.

CAMPAIGN FUNDS

When asked about the use of NT$100 million (US$3 million) in funds the campaign gathered from the public, the camp's lawyer, John Wei (魏千峰), said NT$10 million had not been spent and would be used for social welfare, adding that the camp welcomed applications from civil groups for funding.

Earlier yesterday morning, former Chinese Unity Promotion Party chairman and member of Shih's campaign Lin Cheng-chieh (林正杰) pledged to hold a rally on Oct. 10 this year "to continue the fight against corruption."

Fan, however, rejected Lin's remarks, saying the camp had no plans to organize a protest.

Meanwhile, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), in response to the DPP's call for him to apologize to the public for allowing the campaign rallies last year during his tenure as Taipei mayor, said yesterday that Chen should be held responsible for causing the protest in the first place.

"President Chen's corruption prompted the Red Army to take action. He is the one who should shoulder responsibility for the rally," Ma said at Taipei Songshan Airport before visiting Matsu.

Ma said his party would seek to amend the Assembly and Parade Law so that protesters no longer need to apply for rally permits.

`LAW AND ORDER'

When approached for comment, Hsieh separately told reporters the campaign led by Shih should obey the Assembly and Parade Law even though the legislation is flawed.

"Some people say the law is problematic and can therefore be disregarded, but since we are a society of law and order, we still have to comply with the law," Hsieh said during a visit to Hualien.

Hsieh said that it was the responsibility of the pan-blue camp, which has the majority in the legislature, to amend the law.

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