Lawyers representing former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) appealed to the High Court for a retrial of the Longtan case on the grounds that Tsai Ming-che (蔡銘哲) was a “tainted witness” after admitting withholding information from his testimony.
Chen is serving a 17-and-a-half-year sentence on charges of corruption.
According to the third ruling on the Longtan case, Taiwan Cement Corp chairman Leslie Koo (辜成允) had given NT$300 million (US$10 million) to former first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) as a bribe. In return the Hsinchu Science Park would buy the company’s land in Longtan (龍潭), Taoyuan County. Chen and Wu were both sentenced to 11 years imprisonment.
As the Longtan case was the heaviest sentence Chen received to date, his lawyers were anxious to use the chance to decrease the length of the sentence of the Longtan ruling as other cases Chen was involved in are still under trial.
Chen is also indicted in the second financial reform case, the president’s special state affairs funds, the fake testimony case and the violation of Classified National Security Information Protection Act (國家機密保法) case.
Chen’s lawyers Cheng Wen-lung (鄭文龍), Hung Kuei-tsan (洪貴參) and Shih Yi-lin (石宜琳) alleged that Special Investigation Division (SID) prosecutors’ 2008 secret visit to Japan was made to offer Chinatrust Charity Foundation chairman Jeffrey Koo Jr (辜仲諒) immunity from prosecution in exchange for Jeffrey Koo Jr’s testimony in Chen’s case.
Alleging that the SID prosecutors had told Jeffrey Koo Jr what to say, the attorneys added that Tsai’s admission that he had withheld information in this 2001 testimony gave legal grounds for an appeal or retrial.
The admission was enough to disqualify all of Tsai’s statements made in the Longtan case making him a “tainted witness,” Cheng said.
Cheng pointed out that former Presidential Office deputy secretary-general Ma Yung-cheng’s (馬永成) concluded that Chen knew about the case “through his own conjecture” and there was a lack of facts supporting that supposition.
There was an error on the court’s side in recognition of facts, Cheng said.
Shih also said that though there was no time limit to appeal for a retrial, it was not until Chen’s recent hospitalization that lawyers had the chance to discuss the case with him.
Chen was recently hospitalized in Taipei Veterans General Hospital after a comprehensive checkup showed that he suffers from chronic severe depression and an anxiety disorder.
“We were hesitant about making the appeal for fear that the Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration would interfere, but we felt that we had to publicize these acts of injustice,” Cheng said.
The law states that it is possible for the defendant to make an extraordinary appeal if the court’s ruling goes against the law after the ruling is made, after which the defendant may ask for a retrial after the court acknowledges there is a discrepancy in facts.
Cheng said that the defendants would be appealing for a retrial first because “there wouldn’t be any possibility” that a extraordinary appeal would be passed as the prosecution would bow to politics under the leadership of Prosecutor General Huang Shyh-ming (黃世銘).
In related developments, the High Court yesterday added one year to Chen’s jail sentences, bringing the duration of his incarceration to 18-and-a-half years for his involvement in the Longtan case and the bribery case involving former Taipei 101 chief executive Diana Chen (陳敏薰).
In its ruling, the High Court said that in additon to serving 18-and-a-half years in jail, he would also have to pay a cumulative fine of NT$156 million, which can be commuted to community service.
Additional reporting by Jake Chung and CNA