Bureau of Investigation Director Yeh Sheng-mao (葉盛茂) failed to appear at a court hearing on People First Party (PFP) Chair-man James Soong's (宋楚瑜) defamation suit against President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday.
Yeh, who had been summoned to give testimony at the hearing, requested a leave of absence on the grounds that he had "important official duties" to perform elsewhere.
Also summoned was Chang You-hua (
Yeh and Chang were to give testimony regarding Chen's allegation that Soong secretly met with Chen Yunlin (
Chang told the court yesterday that his comments might have been used by Chen to allege Soong met in secret with a senior Chinese official earlier this year.
Chang said he had mentioned the so-called "Soong-Chen meeting" six times from March to May this year on TV talk shows.
Chang told the court that the sources of his information about the "secret meeting" were the Chinese-language United Daily News and Wealth Magazine, a monthly publication.
Chang claimed it was "not [his] duty" to double-check the "news" he was commenting on, as he was a news commentator, not a news reporter.
In spite of Chen's claim that his allegation was "based on something," Soong filed a slander suit against the president, seeking NT$50 million in damages and a public apology from the president printed in major newspapers for three consecutive days.
Soong claimed that since Chen could not produce any evidence to support his "groundless" allegation, the public had lost confidence in the nation's political leaders.
The PFP leader is in another legal spat with former president Lee Teng-hui (
A ruling on Soong's defamation suit against Lee is scheduled to be handed down on the 16th of next month, after counsel for the two sides failed to reach a settlement before the end of a court hearing on Wednesday.