Wed, Jun 02, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Pan-blue lawyers make no headway

NO ARGUMENT The presiding high court judge was not impressed by the lack of evidence for pan-blue claims of electoral irregularity and demanded more

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The latest attempt by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-People First Party (PFP) alliance to persuade judges that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) manipulated the electoral process seems to have fallen short.

"Our major focus for today's hearing will be the first argument: to persuade the judges that the DPP was taking advantage of holding the referendum and the presidential election at the same time," alliance lawyer Lee Tsung-teh (李宗德) said yesterday afternoon before entering the courtroom.

But this strategy seemed to fall apart when Taiwan High Court Presiding Judge Cheng Ya-ping (鄭雅萍) asked to hear argument on all four points of the case during the two-hour hearing.

She also ordered the pan-blue camp provide more evidence at a subsequent hearing.

During the previous hearing on May 5, alliance lawyers presented four arguments in its request that the court declare the presidential election invalid.

They were that the DPP used the referendum as propaganda for campaign activities; that stricter national security measures implemented by the government forced more members of the military and police to stay on duty, preventing them from voting; that the Central Election Commission (CEC) failed in its duty to postpone the election or make proper arrangements for the vote after the assassination attempt on President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮); and that the CEC did not properly separate people when they were voting in the election and/or the referendum.

CEC defense counsel Chang Cheng-hsiung (張政雄) dismissed the arguments.

Chang said that the CEC was merely following Cabinet orders in holding the referendum and the election. He said that it was not within the CEC's authority to decide whether or not to implement stricter security measures following the assassination attempt.

In addition, he argued, because none of the candidates was killed, then, according to the Presidential Election and Recall Law (總統副總統選舉罷免法), there was no requirement to postpone the election.

"As for the last accusation, everyone had to finish voting in the presidential election before he or she could proceed to the next counter to take part in the referendum," Chang said. "I do not understand how it can be said that we did not properly separate the voters."

Before the end of the hearing, Judge Cheng asked the alliance's lawyers to submit to the court by next Tuesday all available evidence supporting their claim that the CEC had not followed their regulations.

The next hearing is scheduled for June 25 at 2:30pm.

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