The office of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday that Chen was serious about asking US President Barack Obama to testify in court to clarify Taiwan’s status and that the suit had nothing to do with the former president being found guilty of corruption.
The office issued a statement saying that Chen supported a lawsuit that Roger Lin (林志昇), the founder of the Formosa Nation Legal Strategy Association, intends to file in the US because the former president hoped the case would help clarify Taiwan’s international status.
Chen also hopes the trial would reflect his position that the people of Taiwan should jettison the constitutional system of the Republic of China and make concerted efforts to build a new republic and write a new constitution, the statement said.
Chen’s office emphasized that the former president’s backing for Lin’s lawsuit had nothing to do with the trial in which he and his wife were handed life sentences for corruption last week.
Lin said he planned to file the suit at the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces in Washington today and that Chen was willing to testify in his capacity as the “former leader of the Republic of China (ROC) government in exile.”
Chen had also signed an affidavit in support of a writ of certiorari, Lin said.
A writ of certiorari is issued by a higher court to request that a lower court provide records from a given case for review.
In the affidavit, Chen said the US has been the “principal occupying power” of Taiwan and that he would like to clarify in court the relationship between “the people of Taiwan (not the ‘exiled Chinese’ on Taiwan) and the United States, and the rights of the native Taiwanese people to hold some form of US-issued travel documents.”
Some have called Chen’s move a “deathbed struggle,” saying that his true purpose was to see Washington intervene in his legal battle so that a retrial could be held.
Lin petitioned a Washington district court in October 2006 to rule on the nationality of the people in Taiwan. The court dismissed the case, saying it lacked jurisdiction over political matters.
On appeal, Lin argued that the US was Taiwan’s “principal occupying power,” effectively giving the US temporary de jure sovereignty. When permanent sovereignty is ultimately decided, Lin said, the de jure sovereignty of the US would cease.
The US Court of Appeals in Washington upheld the district court’s ruling that deciding sovereignty was a political task rather than a judicial question. As the executive branch of the US government has remained silent on this issue, the court said, it could not intrude on its decision.
Lin appealed to the US Supreme Court on July 8 and the court is scheduled to hold a hearing on whether to accept the appeal on Tuesday next week.
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