Thu, Feb 26, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Chen’s lawyers rebut witness testimonies

DURESS The former president’s lawyers say there are missing sections in the taped testimonies and that witnesses had made their comments under fear of incarceration

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) lawyers yesterday rebutted Chen’s testimony as well as the testimonies of all 17 witnesses during the second day of a three-day hearing on money laundering and corruption charges.

Chen’s lawyers, Cheng Wen-lung (鄭文龍) and Shih Yi-ling (石宜琳), began their defense by questioning the accuracy of witness testimonies gathered since the beginning of the investigation.

In addition to refuting witness testimonies, Cheng also rejected the foreign bank statements used as evidence to prove alleged money laundering by the former first family.

“These testimonies are unreliable because of missing sections on the recordings, and they were made under duress by witnesses who feared the threat of detention. In addition, the confessions are based on ‘rumors’ with no substantiating evidence so they should not be admissible as evidence,” Cheng said. “As for the bank statements, to qualify and be admissible as evidence, they should be in Chinese, not English.”

The hearing began at 9:30am.

Cheng and Shih spent the entire morning’s procedures going through witness testimonies word by word.

By noon, the lawyers had only finished 63 pages. In addition to announcing a recess, Presiding Judge Tsai Shou-hsun (蔡守訓) announced an additional hearing on March 4.

When the afternoon session resumed at 2:30pm, Chen rebutted his own testimony.

“My own testimony cannot be used against me because it is not a confession and I did not admit to any crimes,” he said.

The former president is charged with pocketing NT$1.5 billion (US$44 million), including a bribe of US$9 million in a land deal and money from his presidential “state affairs fund.” He is also charged with money laundering, forgery and influence peddling.

Chen has repeatedly denied all charges, alleging the whole process is political persecution.

The hearing was continuing atpress time.

Meanwhile, prosecutors said yesterday they were investigating former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) over allegations that he had accepted funds from China.

“We are looking into the allegations against President Lee,” said prosecutor Chu Chao-liang (朱朝亮), declining to disclose the amount of money allegedly involved or the source of the allegation.

On Tuesday, Chen said that Lee and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) “received NT$200 million to NT$300 million from the Chinese Communist Party” despite the TSU’s pro-independence policies.

Lee has yet to comment on this, while the TSU has dismissed the allegations.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AFP

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