The pro-unification group the Chinese Unification Alliance (中國統一聯盟) announced plans yesterday to file a defamation lawsuit next week against President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Government Information Office (GIO) director-general Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) for spreading rumors about its involvement in an alleged "soft coup" after the March 20 presidential elections.
The association will ask for NT$1.323 billion in monetary damages in its lawsuit, said alliance vice chairman Rose Chi (紀欣) yesterday, in addition to an apology.
"We are asking for a public apology from Chen and Lin for continually and severely damaging the reputation of our organization with rumors that we advocated a `soft coup' and encouraged social instability," Chi said.
The association made news recently when Chen told supporters Nov. 19 that calls to the military and police to charge the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) headquarters and the Presidential Office and to assassinate him were made on its website (www.onechina.org.tw) prior to the presidential election.
Those details were part of Chen's recent allegation that the pan-blue camp attempted to stage a "soft coup" against him after the March election.
According to Chen, several retired generals tried to convince high-ranking military officials to resign or fake illness and check into hospitals after the presidential election with the purpose of creating social instability and negate the legitimacy of his re-election.
Lin made similar accusations earlier this year.
The association plans to sue both Lin and Chen utilizing a loophole in Taiwan's constitutional law.
While the Constitution provides that the president cannot be liable for criminal prosecution while in office, it does not eliminate the possibility of including him in a civil suit, Tung Liang-Jiunn (董良駿), the association's legal counsel, said yesterday.
As a result, the association plans to sue Lin for defamation and include Chen through the use of Article 487 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (刑事訴訟法). The article states that an injured party can take out a supplementary civil action against the accused and other liable individuals -- in this case, Chen -- and claim recovery of damages.
The NT$1.323 billion figure that the association is asking for in compensation is meant to signify the combined total of China's population of 1.3 billion and the 23 million people of Taiwan, Tung said at the alliance's press conference in Taipei yesterday.
New Party old guard member and retired general Hsu Li-nung (許歷農) was also at the press conference to refute Chen's claims. Hsu, who was directly identified by Chen as a playing a central role in the coup, yesterday made his first public comments about the accusations.
Denying that he was involved in any such plot, Hsu said that he had been out of the country visiting China and the US since March 20 and has only recently returned.
Calling for voters to support a pan-blue majority in the legislature, Hsu added that Chen's purpose in creating rumors of a political coup were to switch voters' focus away from what he called the suspicious circumstances of the election-eve assassination attempt on Chen and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) and the pan-blue camp's two lawsuits challenging the election results.
When Chen first made the allegations, Hsu made his rebuttal via New Party Chairman Yok Mu-ming (郁慕明) because he was out of the country.