Chu's poll victory sparks battle over slow court cases

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Fri, Dec 27, 2002 - Page 3

Wednesday's election of an indicted suspect in a criminal case, Chu An-hsiung (朱安雄), to the speakership of the Kaohsiung City Council prompted a dispute between the nation's highest law-enforcement officer, the Minister of Justice, and the head of the judiciary, the President of the Judicial Yuan, over the responsibility of judges for delays in bringing cases to trial.

Late Wednesday, Minister of Justice Chen Ding-nan (陳定南) called a press conference at which he criticized the fact that two years had passed without a date being set for Chu's trial. Chu was indicted on charges of forgery and breach of trust.

"Judges are delaying cases with the result that indicted suspects are not appropriately and promptly punished," Chen said.

He said that Judicial Yuan President Weng Yueh-sheng (翁岳生) should urge all judges to speed up the processing of cases, instead of delaying them.

"Prosecutors are working hard to convict as many suspects as possible, but the judges are not. This is not acceptable," Chen said.

Chen's remarks were endorsed by Premier Yu Shyi-kun yesterday. "I agree with Chen's remarks," he told reporters.

Speaking on behalf of Judicial Yuan President Weng, Judicial Yuan Secretary-General Yang Ren-shou (楊仁壽) held a press conference yesterday morning to respond to Chen's remarks.

Yang denied the allegations from Chen that judges perform poorly. He said that Weng was very surprised when he heard what Chen said on Wednesday.

"How did Chen come up with a remark like that? He is the justice minister and the nation's top law-enforcement officer. He is supposed to understand the legal process better than anyone else," Yang said.

"For Chu's document-forging case the court received 30 huge piles of documentation, including interrogation records, witnesses' statements, etcetera. They definitely need a long time to review all these. The same explanation applied to Chu's alleged bribery case. Judges are working very hard -- instead of being lazy, like the minister accused them of being," Yang explained.

The indicted politician, Chu, is a 58-year-old independent Kaohsiung City councilor who recently won his fifth term in office in the Dec. 7 elections. He also won the city council's speakership with 25 votes from a total of 44 city councilors on Wednesday.

In 1998, Chu, who was then a KMT councilor, revealed his marked ballot paper to the media in a show of party loyalty as he voted for the KMT candidate for the speakership of the Kaohsiung City Council. He was indicted on a charge of revealing classified legal documents. He was acquitted, however, by the Kaohsiung District Court, which found that a ballot paper was not a classified legal document, a ruling that was upheld on appeal by the Taiwan High Court's Kaohsiung Branch.