Mon, Sep 11, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Groups urge pardon of Chen Shui-bian

Internal opposition:Free Taiwan Party Chair Tsay Ting-kuei said some DPP members seemed opposed to pardoning Chen and called for a vote to reveal legislators’ stances

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

Northern Taiwan Society deputy director Lee Chuan-hsin, Taiwan Society chairman Chang Yeh-sen, Taiwan Jury Association chairman Chang Ching, attorney Cheng Wen-lung and Aletheia University Department of Law chair Wu Ching-chin, left to right, attend a news conference in Taipei yesterday calling on President Tsai Ing-wen to facilitate the pardoning of former president Chen Shui-bian.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

A coalition of Taiwanese independence groups yesterday joined a petition calling for former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to be pardoned and urging President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to amend the Amnesty Act (赦免法) to clear legal obstacles for pardon by the end of this year.

The coalition has renewed a campaign to seek amnesty for Chen, who served more than six years of a 20-year sentence for corruption before being released on medical parole in 2015, but still faces other criminal charges.

Taiwan Society chairman Chang Yeh-sen (張葉森) said he believes there were judicial flaws in Chen’s corruption trial, including what he said was false testimony from former Chinatrust Financial Holding Co vice chairman Jeffrey Koo Jr (辜仲諒), as well as Chen’s conviction for having political influence instead of proven criminal acts.

Tsai had promised judicial fairness for Chen before she was elected last year, while Premier William Lai (賴清德) had severeal times called for Chen to be pardoned, Chang said, calling on the two to start the pardon process.

Attorney Cheng Wen-lung (鄭文龍) said Chen’s trial was tainted by political interference, as former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) went out of his way to comment on Chen’s case and intervene in the work of the judiciary.

Chen’s conviction was fabricated as the court found Chen guilty of corruption due to his de facto influence on a land expropriation case instead of any credible evidence of criminal activities, Cheng said.

“Had there been a jury system, Chen would have been acquitted, because there is no such crime as ‘de facto influence,’” he said, calling for judicial reform to include the jury system.

“Although a retrial could prove Chen’s innocence, he cannot bear any more trials considering his failing physical and psychological health,” Cheng said.

Pardoning Chen is a key indicator of the success of Tsai’s initiative to reform the judiciary, but she has postponed it for too long, Cheng said, calling on Tsai to launch the process by the end of this year.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Yi-yu (蔡易餘) said Chen’s ungrounded conviction, compared with Ma’s acquittal on similar criminal charges, was causing growing public distrust of the judiciary.

The judge acquitted Ma of embezzlement, citing the so-called “reservoir theory” that his use of special funds was legal because more money flowed out than into his account, but Chen was also accused of the use of special funds and the court rejected his defense based on the “reservoir theory,” suggesting judicial partiality, Tsai Yi-yu said.

Tsai Yi-yu has proposed amending the law to allow the president to pardon people for crimes even before a conviction, as Chen still has trails pending in court.

Such an amendment would remove legal ambiguity and prevent the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and pro-unification groups from launching a campaign to overturn the pardon, he said.

Tsai Yi-yu added he sought to schedule a review of the proposed amendment for the next legislative session to begin on Sept 22.

Other members of the coalition yesterday also called for a jury system to insulate the judiciary from political influence.

Taiwan Jury Association director Chang Ching (張靜) said there might be more cases like Chen’s and a jury system is needed to rule on politically sensitive cases to prevent controversy.

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