Political influence suspected in ex-president case: DPP

Tsai asks for judicial explanation on ruling to detain Chen again

The chairwoman of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) questioned yesterday the decision to detain former President Chen Shui-bian for a second time and asked the authorities to explain to the public the judicial grounds for the ruling.
Tsai Ing-wen made the remarks at a joint press conference with DPP legislators Lai Ching-te, Gao Jyh-peng and Yeh Yi-jin at the Legislative Yuan.
Earlier in the day, a collegial panel at the Taipei District Court approved prosecutors' request to detain Chen, but ruled that visits by his family, party members and lawyers will not be banned.
It was the third attempt by prosecutors of the Special Investigation Division under the Supreme Prosecutor Office to have the former president taken back into custody after he was freed by another panel of judges on Dec. 13.
Tsai criticized the practice of "detaining suspects before trial, " saying it has become a frequent strategy and the main one employed by investigators in Taiwan.
She also expressed regret that Chen was handcuffed on his way to jail, saying that this represented a failure to protect his human rights as he is suspect who has not yet been brought to trial and is unlikely to flee the country.
The chairwoman also suggested that the judicial system may have been tainted by political influence after the judges in Chen's case were replaced last week by a new panel headed by Tsai Shou-hsun.
Tsai Shou-hsun was the chief justice in an embezzlement case against former first lady Wu Shu-chen.
Tsai Ing-wen said the DPP hopes the former president will be brave in the face of his challenges and that he will be given a fair trial.
Many people, including DPP members and Chen's supporters, have raised a number of questions pertaining to the case, the DPP chairwoman said, adding that the authorities, particularly the Judicial Yuan, owe the people a clear explanation.
If the government fails to address the concerns of the people and the flaws in the judicial system, this will result in wider divisions in the society, she said.
Nevertheless, the chairwoman called for DPP supporters to remain calm, saying that if there is no other recourse, "we will express our strong feelings in an appropriate way."
Asked whether that means the DPP will stage street protests, Tsai said "it is not about whether or not the DPP will take to the streets, but about how the society feels about the Chen matter and the discrepancy between the people's expectations and government's actions."
Asked whether she will visit Chen at the Taipei Detention Center in Tucheng, Taipei County, Tsai said she did not plan to do so immediately, but "will see what has to be done."
On Dec. 13, the court ordered that Chen, who was taken into custody by prosecutors Nov. 12, be released without bail following his indictment on charges of embezzlement, corruption and money laundering. He is Taiwan's first former president to face criminal prosecution.
Chen and his wife are accused of siphoning off NT$104 million (US$3.12 million) from a special Presidential Office discretionary fund during his presidency from 2000 to 2008.
They are also charged with accepting bribes worth NT$300 million in total in connection with a land procurement deal and another NT$90.93 million in kickbacks to help a contractor win the tender for a government construction project, according to the indictment.

Updated : 2021-04-17 05:40 GMT+08:00