Wed, Nov 26, 2008 - Page 3 News List

MOJ wants ethics probe of Chen’s lawyer

HIS CLIENT’S VOICE The ministry said Cheng Wen-long’s comments have defamed the judiciary. Meanwhile, a KMT lawmaker is thinking about an amnesty for Chen

By Ko Shu-ling and Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Former president Chen Shui-bian’s attorney Cheng Wen-long is surrounded by journalists as he arrives at the Taipei Detention Center to deliver shoes and food to Chen last Thursday.

PHOTO: SUN YOU-LIEN, TAIPEI TIMES

The Ministry of Justice has asked the Taipei District Court and Taipei Bar Association to investigate whether former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) lawyer has violated the lawyer code of ethics by conveying his client’s messages to the outside world during Chen’s detention.

Claiming Cheng Wen-long’s (鄭文龍) statements have been political in nature and defamatory to the judiciary, the Ministry of Justice said on Monday night that it had sent a letter to the Taipei District Court and the Taipei Bar Association, asking if Cheng had violated the lawyer code of ethics.

The court said it would not begin an investigation until it received the letter. The bar association said a task force would be formed to conduct a probe after it receives the official notice.

Chen’s office issued a statement yesterday condemning the ministry, saying its actions would deprive him of his right to litigation guaranteed by the Constitution.

Cheng has been updating the media about Chen’s condition since he was detained without charge on Nov. 12 and began a fast on Nov. 13 to protest “political persecution.”

Cheng also issued a 10-point statement on behalf of Chen denouncing the “death of the judiciary.”

Attorney Richard Lee (李勝琛) said yesterday that Cheng has not violated legal ethics because he has not divulged anything related to Chen’s legal case.

“The ministry might think that Chen, who is being held incommunicado, should not enjoy freedom of speech,” he said. “It is worth discussing whether it is necessary to be so hard on a former president who suspects his case is politically motivated.”

Chen is suspected of money laundering, accepting bribes, forgery and embezzling NT$15 million (US$450,000) during his presidency.

He has accused the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) administration of waging a “political vendetta” against him to curry favor with China.

The latest message Cheng passed on to the media was a poem Chen wrote to his wife, Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) and Cheng transcribed during his visit to Chen on Monday.

In the poem, Chen described his political thoughts and his feelings for his wife, including regrets over his failure to listen to her.

Chen has said before that Wu tried to talk him out pursuing a political career.

Wu was indicted in November 2006 on corruption and forgery charges in connection with the use of Chen’s presidential “state affairs fund.” Chen was declared a defendant in the case shortly after he left office on May 20, when his presidential immunity expired.

Meanwhile, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Tsao Erh-chang (曹爾忠) suggested yesterday that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) consider granting an amnesty to Chen and sending him into exile if Chen admits guilt.

Tsao said Ma should consider pardoning and exiling Chen and his family if and only if the court finds Chen guilty, and Chen pleads guilty and returns the money he allegedly embezzled to the treasury.

Tsao said his proposal was aimed at maintaining social harmony.

“Society has paid a high price for [concentrating on the alleged corruption of] the former first family,” Tsao said.

When approached for comment, KMT caucus secretary-general Chang Sho-wen (張碩文) said the caucus would not discuss the idea until the court convicts Chen.

However, several KMT legislators spoke out yesterday against an amnesty.

KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) said it was unlikely Tsao’s preconditions would be met.

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