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Taiwan justice minister defends mocking Chen skit

Taiwan justice minister defends mocking Chen skit

TAIPEI, Taiwan _ Taiwanese prosecutors performed a biting skit mocking former President Chen Shui-bian, but the country's justice minister said Wednesday that it will not prejudice the ex-leader's upcoming corruption trial.
The comments from Wang Ching-feng come less than a week before Chen is expected to go on trial. He was arrested in November on suspicion of money laundering, bribery and looting a special presidential fund.
On Sunday, Wang was in attendance at an event marking the anniversary of Taiwan's Law Day during which prosecutors mimicked a distraught and handcuffed Chen complaining about police brutality and judicial persecution.
At least one of the prosecutors appearing in the skit is involved in the investigation of Chen, who has proclaimed his innocence.
Chen was originally jailed for 32 days to allow prosecutors to build their case against him, then ordered freed on his own recognizance by a Taipei court. However, he was returned to jail on Dec. 29 after a new panel of judges at the court heard the prosecutors' second appeal against him.
Wang said the skit should not be taken seriously, because it reflected widespread sentiment on this island of 23 million people.
"It is just a little performance reflecting on current affairs," Wang said. "Prosecutors and judges will not hold any biases against Chen, and his trial will be open for all to see."
However, Sue Wang, a spokeswoman for Chen, said that the performance undermined fundamental judicial principles.
"The skit violated the idea that prosecutors should not comment on a particular case, and was intended to humiliate Chen," she said.
Judicial independence remains a sensitive issue on Taiwan, where the one-party dictatorship of the ruling Nationalist Party began to give way to democratic reforms only in the mid-1980s.
President Ma Ying-jeou, a graduate of Harvard Law School, has repeatedly professed his commitment to the rule of law.
However, his government has been criticized at home and abroad for the procedures surrounding the decision to send Chen back to jail and for a series of prosecutions against other former officials in the opposition Democratic Progressive Party.
The DPP's Chen ran Taiwan for eight years until last year, when Ma handily defeated DPP candidate Frank Hsieh's in the island's fourth direct presidential elections.
"Since the Ma administration took power there have been signs of regression in judicial reform, due process of law and judicial credibility," Next Magazine, a mass circulation weekly, said in an editorial published Wednesday.


Updated : 2021-05-08 09:57 GMT+08:00