Former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) lawyer yesterday filed an appeal with the Taiwan High Court against Chen’s detention ahead of his trial on corruption charges.
“We said in the appeal that the vote that saw Presiding Judge Tsai Shou-hsun [蔡守訓] take over the Chen case from Chou Chan-chun [周占春] was the result of political pressure and that it violated the law and the Constitution, and that Chen was perturbed by the selection of Tsai,” Chen’s lawyer Cheng Wen-lung (鄭文龍) told reporters in front of the Taiwan District Court yesterday afternoon.
The appeal also said that Chen’s behavior during the 16 days since his release proved it was unnecessary to detain him, Cheng said.
Chou’s decision to release Chen without bail was a final ruling, Cheng said, and the prosecutors’ appeal to the Taiwan High Court and that court’s ruling that the District Court reconsider Chen’s release were therefore illegal.
Cheng said the flaws in judicial procedure in this case were not only detrimental to Chen, but a setback for the nation’s judiciary.
Tsai said last Tuesday that Chen would be detained, but that the court would not prohibit him from seeing visitors.
The former president was detained on Nov. 12 and held until Dec. 13, when he was indicted along with 13 others on charges of embezzlement, corruption and money laundering.
On Dec. 25, the Taiwan High Court ordered the Taipei District Court to reconsider its Dec. 18 decision confirming Chen’s release.
The High Court’s order was in response to an appeal filed by the Special Investigative Panel of the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office.
Also yesterday, a legislative committee dominated by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) asked the Judicial Yuan to investigate a district court judge who criticized Tsai and present a report on the matter within a month.
The Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee asked the Judicial Yuan to probe Shilin District Court Judge Hung Ying-hua (洪英花), whose criticism of Tsai was described by some of the KMT committee members as “audacious.”
Shortly after the Taipei District Court last week changed the presiding judge in Chen’s case, Hung and Huang Jui-hua (黃瑞華), president of the Ilan District Court, published articles saying the move violated judicial procedures.
On Nov. 17, Hung also criticized the Ministry of Justice over the Chen case in the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper).
The committee also asked the Judicial Yuan to probe an allegation that Hung’s two brothers had used her position for extortion by promising to fix a land deal and a legal case. A report on the allegations and on Hung’s criticism of Tsai should be completed within a month, the committee said.
The committee’s decision came after KMT Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅) alleged during the question-and-answer session that one of Hung’s brothers was convicted of fraud in 1995 for accepting NT$3 million (US$30,000) in bribes in return for promising to fix a legal case.
Chiu said the presiding judge in that case had been Tsai and that he suspected Hung’s criticism of Tsai reflected a personal grudge.
Another of Hung’s brothers was convicted for his involvement in an illegal land deal, Chiu said, yet Hung was made judge of Shilin District Court. Chiu questioned her qualifications, saying that the courtroom was like a way station to her as she traveled back and forth between the judiciary and public office.