Sun, Feb 04, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Council of Grand Justices to review `state affairs fund'

SEEKING CLARIFICATION The Presidential Office filed a request to clarify the constitutionality of the court proceedings in the 'state affairs fund' case

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

The Council of Grand Justices will meet from Feb. 13 to Feb. 14 to review documents relating to President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) request for a constitutional interpretation in the "state affairs fund" case in which his wife is a defendant, a Judicial Yuan spokesman said yesterday.

Constitutional law scholars and experts will also be invited to the two-day exploratory session to give their opinions on the high-profile case involving the president's immunity and right to confidentiality, the spokesman said.

Request

Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) filed the request for interpretation with the council on Jan. 25 on behalf of Chen to clarify the constitutionality of proceedings by the Taipei District Court in the "state affairs fund" case.

Cho also filed an injunction petition asking the Judicial Yuan to order the Taipei District Court to immediately stop the trial and repeal its previous ruling on opening supposedly "secret" files relating to the case.

"The grand justices feel the need to collect more information about the issue," the Judicial Yuan spokesman said, adding that the invitation of academics to present their views and insights complied with the Enforcement Rules for the Law of the Interpretation Procedures for Grand Justices (大法官審理案件法).

The spokesman also said that the convening of the two-day explanatory session did not necessarily mean that the council would come to a conclusion on the case soon.

First lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) and three former and incumbent senior aides at the Presidential Office are facing trial at the Taipei District Court.

`Joint perpetrators'

Wu and Chen were named by prosecutors as "joint perpetrators" in an embezzlement case involving the alleged misuse of the pres-ident's discretionary "state affairs fund."

In a lengthy document submitted to the council on Jan. 25, the Presidential Office said the interpretation request was aimed at defending the constitutional status of the presidency, maintaining the democratic system and protecting the sanctity of the Constitution.

Since the president is protected under Article 52 of the Constitution, the statement argued that the court cannot ask the president to testify during the investigation process and in court hearings or to surrender secret documents.

Immunity

The president's immunity to litigation until his term expires also must be maintained, the statement said.

It further said the Taipei District Court had infringed upon the president's executive privileges and risked leaking state secrets by opening the secret files relating to the "state affairs fund" case.

Chen has denied any wrongdoing in regard to the special "state affairs fund."

He has also promised to resign if his wife is found guilty and has said that the judicial process will clear his name.

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