Fri, Apr 16, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Supreme Court to hear Annette Lu libel appeal

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Supreme Court will hold a hearing on April 27 to debate a High Court decision that The Journalist magazine did not libel Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) when it reported she told its editor-in-chief that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was having an affair.

"[The lawyers for both sides] will debate whether the defendants are protected by Constitutional Interpretation Article 509," Supreme Court spokesman Lu Yung-fu (呂永福) said.

Constitutional Interpretation Article 509 states that "the press is allowed to raise appropriate questions about any suspicious fact or person." However, the article also says that it applies only to criminal cases.

Lu Yung-fu also said it was possible that judges may deliver a verdict in the case on the same day.

The dispute between The Journalist and Lu flared in November 2000, when the magazine published a story accusing Lu of spreading a rumor that Chen was having an affair with one of his female aides.

The magazine said Lu spread the rumor in order to unseat Chen.

Lu filed suit on Dec. 21, 2000, demanding a formal apology from the magazine, saying the story had injured her reputation.

The defendants in the case are editor-in-chief Yang Chao (楊照), president Wang Chien-chuang (王健壯), executive president Jan Hung-chi (詹宏志), publisher Wang Hsing-ching (王杏慶) and reporters Yang Shu-mei (楊舒媚), Wu Yan-ling (吳燕玲) and Tao Ling-yu (陶令瑜).

On April 10, 2002, Judge Lai Yung-hua (賴泱樺) invoked Constitutional Interpretation Article 509 and found the six defendants not guilty of libel.

However, Lai ruled that the story damaged Lu's reputation.

He therefore ordered that the six defendants had to "clarify and admit" their mistake and publish a statement to that effect on the front pages of the nation's 32 newspapers as well as broadcasting it on radio and TV for three days.

On Dec. 13, 2002, the High Court upheld the verdict after hearing an appeal by the defendants. Judge Chang Tsung-chuan (張宗權) made no major change to the original decision

But Chang did order that the defendants buy front-page advertisements for one day in four major Chinese-language newspapers, costing the appellants NT$3.86 million.

Chang declined Lu's request that the defendants broadcast a clarification on radio and television for three days after considering the defendants' ability to pay expenses.

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