Overturning a lower court decision, the Taiwan High Court yesterday ruled that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) must pay compensation of NT$1 million (US$31,250) to Chinese Nationalist Party Chairman (KMT) Ma Ying-jeou (
The verdict also requires the DPP to publish an apology on the front pages of the United Daily News, China Times, Apple Daily and Liberty Times, all Chinese-language newspapers.
"[The] judges believed that the DPP's ad might confuse the public and make people believe that what the commercial was expressing was true. As a result, it could mislead the public into thinking that Ma hates Taiwan and is cooperating with the Chinese communists," said Wen Yao-yuan (
The DPP lashed out against the ruling yesterday, calling it a form of "Blue Terror," and said that it would appeal to the Supreme Court.
The case began three years ago, when the DPP produced a TV commercial which suggested that Ma was in cahoots with the Chinese communists through the use of montage shots that combined images of Ma and the Chinese national flag.
Ma felt that his reputation was damaged and that the DPP's ad could mislead people about his political stance. He filed a libel suit against the DPP and its then-public relations director Yang Meng-hsun (
The first verdict in the case came from the the Taipei District Court last year. The verdict ruled against Ma because the judges believed that the message delivered by the TV commercial was protected as free speech.
In addition, district court judges believed that Ma's reputation was not damaged by the ad. Ma then appealed that verdict to the high court.
Wen said that yesterday's verdict was not necessarily the end of the case, since the verdict could be appealed again to the Supreme Court.
In response, Ma yesterday expressed his satisfaction with the ruling and urged the DPP not to damage other people's reputations with slander.
"This is justice delayed. The important lesson from this ruling is that political parties should have fair competitions, rather than attacking opponents with slander," Ma said yesterday while attending a municipal event in Taipei.
Although the DPP can still file for an appeal, Ma said that he hoped the courts would continue to condemn the smear campaign against him.
Additional reporting by Mo Yan-chih
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