The Taiwan High Court yesterday handed a not guilty verdict to a group of pan-blue lawmakers who were charged with violating the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法) in March 2004 and accused of leading supporters in a violent rampage outside the Central Election Commission (CEC).
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lee Ching-hua (李慶華), former KMT legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅) and former People First Party (PFP) legislator Feng Ting-kuo (馮定國) were found not guilty, while the charges against late PFP legislator Lin Huei-kwung (林惠官) were dropped after he passed away in August 2009.
Lee, Chiu, Feng and Lin — all lawmakers at the time — mobilized a crowd and staged a protest outside the CEC building on March 26, 2004, prior to the commission’s declaration of the result of the 2004 presidential election, when then-president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and then-vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won a second term.
Then-KMT presidential candidate Lien Chan (連戰) lost the race to Chen by a razor-thin margin of fewer than 30,000 votes — or 0.228 percent of the vote.
The four insisted there were controversies left over from the 2004 presidential election and that Chen and Lu should not have been officially declared the winners of their re-election bid.
After the four were invited into the building, a crowd attacked the CEC building, throwing eggs and breaking glass doors and windows, despite police three times asking them to leave the premises and disperse.
The four were prosecuted for violating the Assembly and Parade Act and were sentenced to three months in jail by the Taipei District Court.
Meanwhile, Chiu, Feng and Lin received an additional sentence of 25 days in detention for insulting a government office.
When the case was appealed to the Taiwan High Court, Lee, Chiu and Feng all denied the charges, saying the did not mobilize the crowd and they were not there when police requested that the crowd disperse and so could not be considered responsible.
The court yesterday said that there was no evidence that the four were the leaders of the demonstration and that they were not present when the conflict occurred, hence Lee, Chiu and Feng were declared not guilty.
Responding to the verdict, Lee said through his office aide that the prosecution was a politically motivated one and he was happy that the eight-year legal battle had ended in a victory.
Court verdicts relating to recent violations of the Assembly and Parade Act:
1. In 2008, former Taiwan Association for Human Rights chairman Lin Chia-fan (林佳範) was indicted for leading a demonstration in front of the Legislative Yuan calling for amendments to the Assembly and Parade Act during the Wild Strawberries Student Movement, when Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) visited Taiwan.
Lin was acquitted of violating the Assembly and Parade Act on Feb. 23.
2. In 2006, charges were filed against red-shirt campaign leader Shih Ming-teh (施明德) and 15 others for violation of the Act after they launched a campaign which sought to force then-president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) from office. Although the Taipei District Court ruled that Shih and the others were not guilty, the prosecution appealed to the High Court. Shih and the 15 other defendants were found not guilty by the High Court on April 8, 2010.