On what was to have been the first day of the Vice President's libel trial against The Journalist magazine, Taipei District Court yesterday delayed proceedings by two weeks.
Judge Lai Yung-hua (賴泱樺) said he was acting in accordance with the Code of Criminal Procedure after Vice President Annette Lu's (呂秀蓮) lawyer submitted a request Tuesday for an amendment to the document stating the plaintiff's case. The law entitles a judge to defer a trial if such a document is amended and "he requires further time to review the case in the light of the amendment."
The magazine submitted two weeks ago two CDs as evidence in its defence, saying they contained a recording of a phone conversation on May 17, 2001, between its reporters Yang Shu-mei (楊舒媚), Wu Yan-ling (吳燕玲) and Tseng Chao-ming (曾昭明), a former secretary in the Presidential Office. It said they proved that Tseng had witnessed Lu spreading rumors that the president was having an extra-marital affair.
Tseng currently lives in the UK where he is pursuing a doctoral degree.
Lai said, however, "The delay has nothing to do with the new evidence," said Lai. "It is simply out of consideration of the fact that the original suit has been amended at the request of the plaintiff.
Asked by the Taipei Times why the amendment made it necessary to reschedule the trial, Lai, responded, "It's a matter of procedure."
He rescheduled the trial to start at 2pm on Apr. 10.
Yu Mei-nu (尤美女), Lu's lawyer, said that Lu's team had decided Tuesday afternoon to delete the title on the suit's front page, which read, "The person who spread rumors to discredit President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was Annette Lu."
Asked by reporters why the decision had not been taken until Tuesday, she responded,"Having reviewed it, we realized that the details of the sentence on the front page were explained in writing on page 26 of the suit, so that sentence could be deleted."
Former first lady, Tseng Wen-hui, lost a defamation trial Tuesday against New Party lawmakers Elmer Feng (
The Journalist published several stories in Nov 2000 alleging that the vice president was spreading rumors of an affair between President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and his female interpreter Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), now a DPP legislator, in a bid to unseat the president.