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PROSECUTOR DENIES THROWING SUPPORT BEHIND 'RECALL MOTION'

Taipei, Oct. 5 (CNA) The prosecutor in charge of a probe into alleged misuse of a special "state affairs fund" budgeted for President Chen Shui-bian's discretionary use denied Thursday that he has ever advocated resolving the current political turmoil by recalling President Chen.
Chen Jui-jen, a prosecutor with an anti-corruption center under the Taiwan High Prosecutor's Office, made the denial after an article carried in the latest issue of Next Magazine claimed that he backs an opposition-initiated motion to recall the embattled president over corruption allegations.
Affirming his belief in the importance of "judicial neutrality, " Chen Jui-jen said in a written statement that he has never expressed any advocacy or opinion on political issues in his capacity as a prosecutor.
"Any political comments attributed to me by any media outlet are not true," Chen Jui-jen contended.
He further said Next Magazine's report about his questioning of former President Lee Teng-hui as a witness in connection with the probe into President Chen's alleged misuse of the "state affairs fund" was not factual.
According to Chen Jui-jen, the magazine has never interviewed him nor approached him to verify key points of his talks with Lee before publishing the article.
Opposition politicians have accused President Chen of using "false invoices" to reimburse his state affairs expenses after the Ministry of Audit (MOA) under the Control Yuan found some irregularities in the Presidential Office's financial accounts.
The MOA referred the case to the Taiwan High Prosecutor's Office in late June for further investigation. The office then formed a special task force to probe whether there had been any breach of law in the use of the special "state affairs fund." So far, only the owner of a pharmaceutical company has been listed as a suspect in the case.
President Chen has denied pocketing a single cent from the special "state affairs fund, " but he has admitted that he had directed the use of "other people's" invoices for reimbursement of the "state affairs fund" for clandestine diplomacy.
A senior prosecution source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed Wednesday that Chen Jui-jen questioned former President Lee Sept. 15 about the use of the "state affairs fund" during his presidency from 1988 through 2000.
According to the source, Lee's testimony was helpful in clarifying some facts. The questioning centered on two themes -- similarities and differences in the former and incumbent presidents' use of the "state affairs fund" and the methods for their execution of clandestine diplomacy, the source said.
Lee was quoted as having confirmed that one clandestine diplomatic mission executed by President Chen indeed originated during Lee's tenure. As to other secret diplomatic missions mentioned by Chen, Lee said he had no knowledge of any clandestine project launched after Chen's Democratic Progressive Party came to power in May 2000.
The former president also told Chen Jui-jen that during his presidency, clandestine diplomatic missions were mainly financed by two slush funds budgeted under the National Security Bureau's "Fengtien" and "Tangyang" projects. As a result, Lee claimed that he didn't use his special "state affairs fund" for clandestine diplomacy. He also elaborated on the use and reimbursement of special "state affairs fund" during his presidency for reference.
Chen Jui-jen questioned President Chen Aug. 7 about the reimbursement of special "state affairs fund" as "a key figure related to" the investigation into the case.
During questioning, President Chen confessed to having directed the use of "other people's" invoices for reimbursement of the "state affairs fund, " but he claimed that the expediency was completely for diplomatic funding.
According to existing regulations, half of the state affairs fund may be kept for confidential use and reimbursed with only official signatures, but reimbursement of the remaining half requires invoices or sales receipts.
President Chen was quoted as having told Chen Jui-jen that he felt deeply aggrieved that he had been accused of corruption for what was in fact his constant efforts for Taiwan's diplomatic cause.
Chen Jui-jen said previously that the president had provided him with a list of individuals who had undertaken what he called clandestine diplomatic functions.
As the president mentioned during the questioning that his wife, Wu Shu-jen, had taken the initiative to help collect "other people's" invoices for state affairs fund reimbursements because of the insufficiency of the diplomatic funding, Chen Jui-jen questioned Wu Aug. 20 about the issue at the first couple's official residence near the Presidential Office.
"Wu also conceded that she had helped with gathering other people's invoices for state affairs fund reimbursements out of her patriotism," Chen Jui-jen said.
According to him, the first lady's testimony was consistent with the president's. As to how all those "other people's" invoices had ended up in the Presidential Office's accounting reports, Chen Jui-jen said that the testimonies of the other relevant witnesses were not fully congruent.
Chen Jui-jen further said the first couple agreed that if necessary, they would accept a second round of questioning. He was only accompanied by an assistant in the separate questioning of the president, the first lady and former President Lee.
According to the Constitution, a sitting president cannot face criminal charges, except for treason or rebellion. As a result, prosecutors cannot level any charges against Chen even if they find he is guilty of misuse of the "state affairs fund." Responding to speculation that the investigative results may be mothballed, members of the investigation panel, led by Chen Jui-jen, said recently that they are speeding up their probe and will give a clear and detailed account of whether any individual is guilty and of which charges they will face at the conclusion of their probe.
(By Sofia Wu) ENDITEM/Li


Updated : 2021-05-17 00:37 GMT+08:00