Thu, Aug 20, 2009 - Page 4 News List

High Court rules against Koh in slander lawsuit

PART OF THE JOB The judges ruled that as Koh Se-kai was the nation’s representative to Japan, his actions were fair game for criticism by lawmakers

By Shelley Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Taiwan High Court Taipei branch yesterday ruled that Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) and Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) had not committed slander by calling former representative to Japan Koh Se-kai (許世楷) names after last year’s Diaoyutai incident.

In June last year, Koh declined to appear at the legislature after a collision near the Diaoyutai islets (釣魚台) between a Taiwanese fishing boat and a Japanese coast guard vessel. The fishing boat sank.

‘JAPANESE SPY’

Later that month, when interviewed by reporters at the legislature, Lu and Wu called Koh a “Japanese spy” and a “traitor” and said he did not have the backbone to stand up to the Japanese.

Lu and Wu criticized Koh’s refusal to report to the legislature and his decision not to give up his permanent residency in Japan.

The legislators said these decision proved that Koh sided with the Japanese and not with the Taiwanese.

After the Taipei District Court ruled against him, Koh appealed to the Taiwan High Court.

PUBLIC MATTER

The judges stated in yesterday’s ruling that although the words used by Lu and Wu were “merciless,” “insulting” and intended to inflict humiliation on Koh, who held a high government office, the issue was one of public concern.

The judges ruled that as Koh was the nation’s representative to Japan, his actions in dealing with the Diaoyutai incident were open to public judgment.

Furthermore, it said the comments made by Lu and Wu were not made out of malice against Koh and thus their comments fall under the constitutional right to freedom of speech, the judges said.

The ruling is final and Koh may not appeal.

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