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War of words dominates Wu's embezzlement trial

NTUH chief says first lady could leave hospital in two weeks

War of words dominates Wu's embezzlement trial

Verbal wars between lawyers and prosecuting attorneys dominated the third hearing of first lady Wu Shu-chen's (吳淑珍) embezzlement trial yesterday when Wu and a leading prosecutor were both absent from the court due to illness.
One of the arguments focused on whether three files of documents compiled by Prosecutor Eric Chen (陳瑞仁) regarding details of two question sessions he had with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) over the president's alleged misuse of the "state affairs" fund should be classified since the latter claims that the case has involved certain secret diplomatic work.
The president told the prosecutor he had to collect other people's invoices to claim from the fund in question, which is budgeted to the national leader every year for discretionary use, to cover his expenses for six confidential diplomatic missions.
Led by Prosecutor Chang Hsi-huai, the prosecution first made the request to the court last Friday to seize documents relevant to the six secret tasks Chen unveiled as they suspected that the president and his aides might destroy the documents.
The court, nevertheless, rejected the request as the three-judge panel held that it is unlikely that Chen would destroy the papers, which are in fact evidence favorable to the defendants.
Though Chang was absent from the hearing yesterday following a reported psychological breakdown he suffered early this week, four prosecutors filed the request to the court again. The prosecution questioned the president's statement over the papers' confidentiality, saying that Chen should have classified the papers in compliance with the Classified National Security Information Protection Act if they are really confidential.
The court, still, turned down the prosecutors' request, retaining the view they unveiled last week. The judges also told prosecuting attorneys that they could file a written request to the presidential office to take a look at the related papers whenever they want to study the documents.
The defense team, otherwise, argued that three files of documents compiled by Eric Chen who gave Wu and three presidential aides the indictment on November 3 could have violated a presidential immunity from criminal charges protected by the constitution. The prosecutor was negligent when he compiled the documents without specifying whether the information he acquired from the two question sessions with the president should be classified, argued Wellington Koo (顧立雄), the first lady's leading lawyer. According to Koo, the negligence could have led to a leak of confidential information by people who have already read the documents.
The panel decided at the end of the hearing to file a written inquiry to the presidential office to ask presidential staffers to elaborate on the legitimate process of classifying confidential papers. Meanwhile, the court also announced that it would file a similar inquiry to the Taiwan High Prosecutors Office to discover under what criteria its prosecutor Eric Chen had applied to define the information provided by President Chen in the two question sessions.
The judges also expressed hope that the first lady can appear in court when the trial resumes on January 12. Wu has been absent from the hearing twice since she almost fainted in the opening of the trial on December 15. The wheelchair-bound first lady suffers from hypertension among other ailments resulting from her being paralyzed from the waist down in a serious car accident in 1985.
The judges' hopes may be realized as Lin Fang-yu, superintendent of National Taiwan University Hospital, said late yesterday,"The first lady may be able to leave the hospital in two weeks." Lin made the remark in response to a reporter's inquiries.
Wu was rushed to the NTUH on December 15 right after a caregiver accompanying her to the court discovered that she had gradually lost consciousness during a break in the opening trial.


Updated : 2021-06-13 05:30 GMT+08:00