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Thu, Jan 04, 2001 - Page 3 News List

Lu to review records of phone calls

LIBEL SUIT A judge has granted the vice president access to phone records of the editor in chief of `The Journalist,' records that could be pivotal to her libel case

By Lin Mei-chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) has won access to the phone records of Yang Chao (楊照), editor in chief of the magazine she's suing for libel.

The records could potentially bolster the vice president's case against The Journalist, or sink it.

Lu is suing the magazine after it reported on Nov. 16 that the vice president called a "high ranking media member" on Nov. 3 to spread rumors of an affair between President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), one of the president's closest aides.

After Lu vigorously denied the report and filed suit against the publication, Yang said it was he who Lu had called.

According to Lai Yang-hua (賴泱樺), a Taipei District Court judge who granted the vice president's request, Lu has won access to phone records detailing Yang's incoming and outgoing calls for the night of Nov. 3.

Lai said both sides in the dispute would be allowed to review the records in preparation for the Jan. 12 libel hearing.

The phone records are for Yang's home, office and mobile phones.

In an interview with the Taipei Times, Lai said he granted Lu's request on Dec. 30. Specifically, the records are to detail Yang's incoming and outgoing phone calls between 10pm and midnight.

In theory, the records should prove whether Lu contacted Yang -- the high-ranking media member The Journalist alluded to in its Nov. 16 report.

"I granted Lu's request in accordance with Article 368 of the Code of Civil Procedure (民事訴訟法), which states that if it is feared that evidence might be destroyed or lost or made difficult to be produced for use, a party may apply to the court" to obtain such evidence, Lai said.

"Based on my investigation, Yang has telephone accounts for three different companies, including TG Telecom (和信電信), Taiwan Cellular Corporation (台灣大哥大) and Chunghwa Telecom (中華電信)," Lai said.

Except for Chunghwa Telecom, which plans to make the records available to Lai soon, all the requested records have been received, the judge said.

Wang Chien-chuang (王健壯), president of The Journalist, said he supported Lai's decision to use the records in the libel trial, as the magazine had earlier said that the documents would help prove their case. It's "the best way to reveal the truth," Wang said.

The Nov. 16 story has sparked a fierce fight between Lu and editors of The Journalist, with both sides calling the other a liar.

Having failed to settle the dispute out of court, Lu's legal team filed a libel suit on Dec. 21. The vice president and seven defendants from the magazine, including the story's reporter, will be subpoenaed for the trial.

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