Sat, May 09, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Chen dismisses lawyers, refuses food

REFUSING TO FIGHTA spokesman for the Taipei District Court said the former president would be given a court-appointed attorney if he dismissed his legal team

By Shelley Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former vice president Annette Lu, left, talks with a guard after visiting former president Chen Shui-bian at the Taipei Detention Center yesterday. Chen has been on a hunger strike since returning to the detention center on Thursday. After seeing Chen, Lu said he was depressed, still refused to eat or drink and refused to seek medical treatment.

PHOTO: LO PEI-DER, TAIPEI TIMES

Former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) lawyers were informed on Thursday that they would be dismissed, one of Chen’s aides said yesterday, adding that Chen would not submit papers to the court on the dismissal of his lawyers but declare the decision in person when he appears in court on Tuesday.

Chen dismissed his lawyers because the judiciary is being unfair, “and he refuses to acknowledge Presiding Judge Tsai Shou-hsun’s (蔡守訓) illegal indictments and his illegal detention,” Chen’s office secretary Chiang Chih-ming (江志銘) told reporters after he visited Chen yesterday morning.

Chen has been detained at the Taipei Detention Center since Dec. 30 on charges of corruption and money laundering. On Thursday, after appearing weak at a court hearing on whether his detention should be extended, Chen issued a statement saying that he would not appeal and would immediately dismiss his attorneys and stop calling witnesses.

In the statement, Chen called on the presiding judge to “end this circus” and to hand him a life sentence. He repeated his accusations that the government was behind a politically motivated campaign against him. Chen has refused food or water since he was sent back to the detention center on Thursday.

Shih Yi-ling (石宜琳), one of Chen’s lawyers, said because Chen’s three lawyers still represent him as far as the court is concerned, they will accompany him to his trial on Tuesday.

Taipei District Court spokesperson Huang Chun-ming (黃俊明) yesterday said the judges would arrange for a court-appointed attorney to represent Chen if he dismisses his current lawyers.

In response to Chen’s wish to revoke his request to summon witnesses, Huang said that even if Chen didn’t want to call the witnesses, the court could still investigate and examine evidence.

“Even if it is against the defendant’s will, the prosecution and the court still have the right to investigate, but because they have not yet received the official papers, there is no way of knowing [whether this is Chen’s intention],” Huang said.

Legal analysts said that even if Chen decides to accept his sentence without appeal, the judges would still refer the case to the Taiwan High Court for further proceedings in accordance with the Code of Criminal Procedure (刑事訴訟法).

The district court said it would announce on Monday at the earliest whether Chen was to continue his detention. However, because the current term does not expire until May 26, the district court may delay its decision until May 25.

Former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) visited Chen yesterday and later told reporters that he looked “very depressed.”

Lu and former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator Luo Wen-chia (羅文嘉) went to the Taipei Detention Center to visit Chen, but he only agreed to see Lu.

After the visit, Lu told reporters that Chen was very unhappy because he felt he was not being given a fair trial.

When he was in court on Thursday, Chen displayed symptoms of physical discomfort, his whole body shook and he spoke amid intermittent coughs. Tsai cut the hearing short and Chen was escorted back to the detention center, the judges rejecting a request from Chen’s lawyers to have the former president hospitalized.

“I’ve known him for a long time, but I have never seen him this depressed,” Lu said. “He insists that he won’t see anyone, but he made an exception for me and told me this is the last time he would see me.”

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