Tue, Feb 24, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Chen ends hunger strike after Wu visit

DODGY DVDSThe former president's lawyers made public videos of interviews with key witnesses, many of which were incomplete or muted in certain places

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday ended his four-day hunger strike, the day before a three-day court hearing that is part of his trial on money-laundering and corruption charges.

Chen had not eaten anything since Friday in protest at what he says is political persecution by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government.

The former president started eating again after his wife, Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍), visited him for the first time since he was detained in late December.

“He ate some rice porridge and some fish and vegetables his wife brought in,” Taipei Detention House deputy director Lee Ta-chu (李大竹) said.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Hsueh Ling (薛凌), who accompanied Wu, told reporters that Wu asked her husband to eat as he would need his strength to fight the charges against him.

“He is still in reasonable health, although a little dehydrated and should be able to attend tomorrow’s hearing,” Lee said.

Meanwhile, Chen’s lawyers told a press conference at Chen’s office yesterday afternoon that prosecutors from the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office Special Investigation Panel (SIP) had deliberately altered witnesses’ testimony in the alleged money laundering case.

His lawyers yesterday made public DVDs of prosecutors’ interviews with former Presidential Office treasurer Chen Chen-hui (陳鎮慧), former Chinatrust Financial Holding Co (中信金控) vice chairman Jeffrey Koo Jr (辜仲諒), Taiwan Cement Corp (台泥) chairman Leslie Koo (辜成允) and James Lee (李界木), former Hsinchu Science Park Administration chief. Conversations between the defendants and SIP prosecutors were incomplete, as parts of them were muted and other parts had been deleted.

“This is incontrovertible evidence that the statements from witnesses presented by the SIP are insufficient and ineligible as evidence for the hearings, as they are incomplete,” said Cheng Wen-lung (鄭文龍), one of the former president’s lawyers.

In addition, Cheng also questioned why prosecutors had only selected statements against Chen Shui-bian and deleted statements made in his favor.

“Statements like these should be inadmissible as evidence for hearings,” said Shih Yi-ling (石宜琳), another lawyer.

“We will ask the judges to review these DVDs. We will also ask for cross-examination of the witnesses and the former president in court if necessary,” Shih said.

In response to the complaints, SIP spokesman Chen Yun-nan (陳雲南) said: “Our colleagues may have forgotten to push the record button, so some of the interview would be muted. Glitches like these can be ironed out in the future. But all these statements were signed by the witnesses under their own free will. So the statements are 100 percent qualified as testimony for the hearings.”

Chen Yun-nan also confirmed that prosecutors interviewed Central Bank Governor Perng Fai-nan (彭淮南) in connection with the case at a secret location yesterday, but the spokesman refused to confirm the contents of the conversation.

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