Thu, Dec 01, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Lafayette scandal leads to lawsuits

WAR OF WORDS Former premier Hau Pei-tsun filed suit against four DPP members, while a retired vice admiral plans to file suit against the president today

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former premier Hau Pei-tsun, right, rings the bell at the Taipei District Court yesterday afternoon to file a defamation law suit against a number of DPP legislators. He is accompanied by his son, Hau Lung-bin.

PHOTO: LIN CHENG-KUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Former premier Hau Pei-tsun (郝柏村) filed a defamation suit against several Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers yesterday who had accused him of taking kickbacks in connection with the purchase of Lafayette frigates.

Hau's lawsuit, filed at the Taipei District Court yesterday afternoon, names DPP legislators William Lai (賴清德), Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) and Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津), as well as DPP Secretary-General Lee Yi-yang (李逸洋), as defendants.

Hau said he loathes arm dealers and never dealt with one. He said he does not know Andrew Wang (汪傳浦), the agent for Thomson-CSF (now known as Thales), the French company that sold the frigates to Taiwan, or Liu Li-li (劉莉莉).

Lee has claimed that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) used Liu to distribute US$100 million to officials in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and People's Liberation Army, including former Chinese president Jiang Zemin (江澤民), in connection with the ship deal.

Lee has said that Liu, whose father is a general, regarded Hau as her second father.

Hau also dismissed allegations that he received kickbacks from the ship deal and that he has overseas bank accounts.

DPP lawmakers have hinted that Hau signed a secret deal with France to leak confidential information about the frigates to China.

Hau said yesterday that he did not have the power nor channels to make contact with Beijing at the time of the sale.

He said he was out of the military in January 1990, when France first suspended export of the frigates, and that he left the premier's office in February 1993, while the deal was sealed on June 4, 1993.

Hau did admit, however, to asking the navy to consider buying the Lafayettes after he visited France in 1989. However, then-president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) had the final say on the matter, he said.

Meanwhile, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Joanna Lei (雷倩) held a news conference during which retired rear admiral Wang Chin-sheng (王琴生) announced that he would file a slander suit today against President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), DPP legislators Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) and Shen Fa-hui (沈發惠), as well as Yeh and Lai.

Wang said that he would ask for NT$100 million (US$2.93) in compensation in his lawsuit.

Joanna Lei is the daughter of retired vice admiral Lei Hsueh-ming (雷學明), who was indicted along with Wang and four other high-ranking military officers on charges of forgery and corruption in July 2001.

The six officers had backed the purchase of frigates from South Korea until they made a trip to France. After their return from France, they had proposed buying the Lafayettes.

Hsu has claimed that Wang and other high-ranking military officials were paid an estimated US$20 million to endorse the French frigate deal.

During the news conference Joanna Lei asked Minister of National Defense Lee Jye (李傑) to make public all confidential military files about the Lafayette purchase. She also challenged DPP lawmakers to relinquish their legislative immunity to participate in a public debate on the scandal.

Hsu said he welcomed the lawsuits. He also reiterated that Hau had played a key role in the policy reversal that led to the Lafayette purchase.

Hsu said that if pan-blue lawmakers are willing to relinquish their legislative speech immunity, he would be the first DPP lawmaker to follow suit.

Better yet, Hsu said, the pan-blue lawmakers might consider amending the Constitution to abolish such legislative privileges.

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