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Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian
both pled not guilty in separate cases


By: Michael Richardson

Lee Teng-hui, former President of the Republic of China in-exile from 1988 to 2000, pled not guilty yesterday in Taipei District Court to charges of corruption during his term in office. Chen Shui-bian, Lee’s successor in the exiled ROC government ruling Taiwan, pled not guilty on Wednesday, also in Taipei District Court, to charges of possessing classified documents.

Although the case against the 89 year-old Lee Teng-hui, who has coronary disease and was operated on last year for colon cancer, began in June, the Friday courtroom appearance was the first for Lee because of his health. Lee is charged with diverting $7.8 million of secret diplomatic funds for the establishment of a think-tank.

Chen Shui-bian, also suffering from health problems, is currently serving a lengthy prison sentence for alleged corruption during his term in office. Chen was convicted following a controversial trial that drew international criticism. One episode that drew media attention was an after-hours skit by courtroom personnel mocking Chen. Charges of perjured testimony against Chen have kept the trial clouded in controversy.

Although the case against the 89 year-old Lee Teng-hui, who has coronary disease and was operated on last year for colon cancer, began in June, the Friday courtroom appearance was the first for Lee because of his health. Lee is charged with diverting $7.8 million of secret diplomatic funds for the establishment of a think-tank.

Chen Shui-bian, also suffering from health problems, is currently serving a lengthy prison sentence for alleged corruption during his term in office. Chen was convicted following a controversial trial that drew international criticism. One episode that drew media attention was an after-hours skit by courtroom personnel mocking Chen. Charges of perjured testimony against Chen have kept the trial clouded in controversy.

The new criminal charges against Chen Shui-bian stem from his presidential papers stored in boxes in his ROC-funded retirement office. Ironically, because of a pre-trial detention order against Chen after he left office, Chen has not had an opportunity to use the documents he is accused of possessing.

Lee Teng-hui told the Taipei court that he “did nothing wrong” and that the charge against him was “totally untrue.” After the court hearing Lee told reporters, “I didn’t do anything.” Lee’s next court hearing is September 21st.

Chen Shui-bian’s retirement office was raided on September 25, 2008 and 1,300 documents were confiscated. A second raid, after Chen was already in jail, in 2010 turned up 688 more pages of allegedly classified documents that were missed during the first raid. Prosecutors are just now bringing charges against Chen over the presidential papers.

Ramsey Clark, former Attorney General, visited Chen Shui-bain last week and called for Chen’s immediate release from the harsh prison conditions imposed on the former ROC president. Besides long hours in a tiny cell with no furniture, Chen has been denied requested medical treatment and was drugged with a psychiatric medication without his consent.

Hung Kuei-san, one of Chen’s attorneys, told reporters before Chen’s court appearance that a not guilty plea was appropriate because the papers had never left government offices. Hung said further that Chen could have destroyed the documents without breaking any law and there was no evidence that Chen transferred the documents to anyone or breached any confidentiality.

According to Focus Taiwan News Channel, the day before Chen’s not-guilty plea the Taipei District Court ruled that Chen Shui-bian would not receive a public trial and that testimony would occur behind closed doors.

The trials of Lee and Chen are seen by their supporters as politically motivated as both men favor an independent Taiwan rather than “one China” as advocated by Ma Ying-jeou, the current ROC leader.

2012-08-25

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