Legislator not guilty of defaming Ma

By Shelley Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Sat, Mar 14, 2009 - Page 3

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Yu Tian (余天) yesterday praised the country’s judicial system after he was found not guilty of defamation for alleging President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and his family members possessed US passports.

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) filed a lawsuit against Yu last August for his remarks during a campaign rally alleging Ma and his family could flee the country anytime. Yu was charged with defamation with intent to cause Ma to fail in his presidential election bid.

The Banciao District Court on Thursday said that what Yu said was based on reasonable doubt and evidence and that he was “expressing appropriate opinions in connection with public interest or affairs meriting public discussion,” as specified in Article 311 of the Criminal Code (刑法).

Yu yesterday said he was relieved to hear this result.

“I can finally breathe,” he told a press conference. “My lawyer told me that I could ask to settle this out of court if I admitted what I did was a crime, but the court told me that if I confessed to a crime, I would have to be stripped of my public duty as a legislator.”

Upon hearing this, Yu said he decided not to settle. When he heard that the district court found him not guilty, he praised the judicial system.

“Many people say that the judicial system is unfair, but I think in this instance, the law is quite fair,” he said.

At a separate setting yesterday, Presidential Office spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said Ma had already proven that his US green card was invalidated a long time ago, and that he had no US passport.

When asked whether Ma would appeal the case, Wang said the lawsuit was filed by legislators and was a public prosecution. The Presidential Office respected the prosecutors’ authority, he said.

“Yu and the opposition parties have been attacking President Ma with the green card issue, but the truth is he already proved that he had no US passport and that his green card was invalid. It’s very clear,” Wang added.