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PFP slams Chen request for constitutional ruling

PFP slams Chen request for constitutional ruling

Opposition legislators yesterday joined some prosecutors in opposing President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) decision to petition the Council of Grand Justices for an interpretation regarding the head of state's constitutional immunity from criminal charges.
Leaders of the People First Party's caucus in the Legislature held a press conference to blast what they described as President Chen's efforts to use his privileges to intervene in the trial of the first lady on charges of embezzling state affairs funds under Chen's jurisdiction.
PFP spokesman Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) said the harder President Chen tries to hinder the legal proceedings of this case the more evident it becomes that Chen and his wife are culpable. Lee asked the president not to forget his own promise that he would resign if the first lady is found guilty of corruption in the first trial.
What is more absurd is that the president also petitioned the Judicial Yuan to order the Taipei District Court to stop the trial, citing national security reasons, Lee said.
PFP Policy Research Center Director Vincent Chang (張顯耀) said President Chen decided to seek help from the grand justices because he holds the power to nominate a new group of grand justices when the tenure of the incumbents expire at the end of this year.
Chang urged the grand justices to uphold the principle of justice in studying whether to accept President Chen's application, saying that the people will be able to tell if Taiwan's judiciary is able to function independently, based on the council's decision on this case.
Meanwhile, the two prosecutors assigned to the case said that they disagreed with Premier Su Tseng-chang's (蘇貞昌) request for the Ministry of Justice to appeal for an interpretation of the constitutional article on presidential immunity.
Prosecutor Chen Jui-jen (陳瑞仁), who indicted the first lady and other defendants at the end his investigation into the case, insisted that he and his colleagues did not violate the constitution or any directives given by the ministry when they decided to indict the first lady on corruption charges.
Chen's colleague, Chang Hsi-huai, said he felt depressed upon learning of Premier Su's request for his supervisor, Minister of Justice Shih Mao-lin (施茂林), to petition the Council of Grand Justices.
"Shih should stand with us instead of turning his back on us while we are doing our work," he said.
Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰), in explaining his petition on the president's behalf, said that it is in violation of the presidential immunity article for the prosecution to indict the first lady and then name Chen as a "joint perpetrator."
Citing Article 52 of the Constitution, Cho noted that the president enjoys immunity from criminal prosecution while in office, unless he commits sedition or treason. Additionally, as the head of state, Chen has the right to refuse to disclose, during legal proceedings, information that may jeopardize national security, Cho said.