Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and his lawyers yesterday rebutted the testimony of former Chinatrust Financial Holding Co vice chairman Jeffrey Koo Jr (辜仲諒).
The rebuttal came during the latest pre-trial hearing in his money-laundering and corruption trial at the Taipei District Court.
Chen also questioned whether the court had violated his human rights by extending his detention period.
The court began by verifying whether the statements given by Koo in the video recordings were consistent with the transcriptions as Koo spoke in a mixture of Mandarin, Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese) and English.
Chen's lawyers and prosecutors disagreed about the content on many occasions.
During the questioning, Koo said: “I don't know Tsai Ming-che (蔡銘哲) [another defendant] ... A friend introduced Tsai Ming-chieh (蔡銘杰) [Tsai Ming-che's brother] to me as [former first lady] Wu Shu-jen's (吳淑珍) chief financial officer.”
Koo said he introduced Tsai Ming-chieh to Taiwan Cement Group (台泥) chairman Leslie Koo (辜成允). Prosecutors allege Chen received kickbacks from the sale of a plot of Leslie Koo-owned land in Longtan (龍潭), Taoyuan County, to the Hsinchu Science Park Administration.
After the deal was completed, Wu allegedly told Jeffrey Koo: “You owe me NT$400 million [US$11.4 million].”
Koo said Wu became angry when she discovered that she should have received NT$400 million, but only received NT$200 million.
“Wu said, 'I think Tsai Ming-chieh stole money from me.' I would never forget this sentence,” Jeffrey Koo said.
He added that the former first lady had “become kind of strange from being cooped up [at home].”
He said that ever since Chen became mayor of Taipei, Chen would tell him the “big picture,” while the former first lady would tell him the actual amount of money to be paid.
“The president would never tell you how much money he wants,” he said.
Prosecutors allege that the Koo's Group had secured billions of NT dollars in kickbacks from selling land to the government for the development of an industrial park after giving NT$400 million to Chen and his wife.
Wu has admitted taking NT$200 million and insisted it was a political donation.
After reviewing about an hour of the video recording, Cheng Wen-lung (鄭文龍), one of Chen's lawyers, accused the Special Investigation Panel (SIP) of not transcribing certain parts of Jeffrey Koo's testimony.
Cheng used the example of when Jeffrey Koo said: “[Wu Shu-jen] doesn't like it when Chen Shui-bian meddles in her affairs.”
Cheng said this rebuts the part in the petition that said whatever the first lady knew, Chen also knew.
Cheng also quoted Jeffrey Koo as saying, “this door has closed,” which he said proved that the former president did not accept lobbying by enterprises.
In his own defense, Chen said: “Jeffrey Koo's relationship with my wife has exceeded my relationship with my wife by far.”
Chen said Jeffrey Koo should not be a witness, but a suspect, because he is heavily involved in the case. He also questioned the validity of Koo's testimony and suspected that prosecutors asked leading questions to produce the answers they wanted. He added that prosecutors violated protocol by revealing the testimony of others to Jeffrey Koo.
Throughout his rebuttal of the statements, Chen made several comments about Presiding Judge Tsai Shou-hsun's (蔡守訓) decision to extend his detention.
“Today, you indict me, keep me detained and extend my detention ... What about my human rights?” he said.
“Where in the Code of Criminal Procedure does it state that a detainee may not publish books?” he asked.
Chen spoke for more than an hour before Tsai ordered a one-hour lunch recess at 2:30pm.
When the hearing resumed at 3:30pm, the court went through video recordings of testimonies by Leslie Koo and the former president's bookkeeper, Chen Chen-hui (陳鎮慧).
Chen Shui-bian's lawyers accused the SIP of tampering with the recording to erase testimony that supported the defendants.
Prosecutors responded by saying that some parts of the recording had no sound because the equipment malfunctioned. They also insisted that the testimonies would still be admissible and the fact that the time written on the transcription and the video recording was inconsistent was not enough to dismiss the testimony.
The next hearing, scheduled for Tuesday, will examine the testimony of James Lee (李界木), the former director-general of the Hsinchu Science Park Administration.
Meanwhile, in response to Chen office's plan to highlight the former president's case in an international press conference, Minister of Justice Wang Ching-feng (王清峰) urged the office not to “discredit Taiwan's judicial system.”
“Taiwan's judicial system is not as ugly [as Chen's office says],” Wang said when approached outside the legislature.
“We expect everyone to respect the judiciary while the judiciary also deserves our respect. Discrediting our own country will not do anybody any good,” she said.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅) said it would be useless for the former president to “complain” to international reporters, adding that Chen Shui-bian's detention might be extended again if his office held the conference.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY FLORA WANG
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