Tue, Feb 13, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Chen Shui-bian’s son rails against the minister of justice over pardon statement

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

Minister of Justice Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) said it was legally impossible to pardon former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), as he still faces several charges, which provoked criticism from Chen’s son, Chen Chih-chung (陳致中).

In an interview with the Central News Agency yesterday, Chiu said only people who have exhausted all legal appeals could be considered for pardons, but the former president, who served more than six years of a 20-year sentence for corruption before being released on medical parole in 2015, still faces other criminal charges.

When granting a pardon, the crimes of which the subject has been convicted need to be stated, but several trials involving Chen Shui-bian are still pending, which renders him ineligible for a pardon.

If the ex-president were to be pardoned for the corruption charges of which he has already been convicted, “should he be pardoned again if he were to be convicted of other pending charges?” Chiu said.

Pardoning Chen Shui-bian is a political and divisive issue, so public opinion should be taken into account and an opinion poll might be necessary when deciding on the issue, Chiu said.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has not discussed the matter with him, Chiu said, adding that he would advise Tsai on how to write a pardon order, because minute differences in wording could have widely divergent legal effects.

In response, Chen Chi-chung criticized Chiu for perpetuating what he called a “loophole” in the Amnesty Act (赦免法), which stipulates that someone can only be pardoned for crimes of which they have been convicted.

An initiative to amend the law has been launched by Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Yi-yu (蔡易餘), and Chiu should support the amendment instead of keeping the “loophole” open, Chen Chih-chung said.

“It makes absolutely no sense if a president has to conduct an opinion poll to exercise their presidential privilege to redress judicial injustice,” he said.

“Speaking of opinion polls, the justice minister has the lowest approval rating among Cabinet members,” Chen Chih-chung added.

Chen Shui-bian pardoned 22 criminals while in office, and there had been no need to list their crimes in the pardon orders, he said.

Tsai Yi-yu, who has proposed amending the Amnesty Act to allow the president to pardon defendants for crimes even before being convicted, said Chiu should not have complicated the issue with the mention of opinion polls.

“The pardon [of Chen Shui-bian] is by nature a political issue, which is a decision to be made by the president alone,” Tsai Yi-yu said.

If Tsai Ing-wen decided to grant the pardon, the amendment could be carried out smoothly, Tsai Yi-yu said, adding that he would continue to push for the legislation.

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