Why Chen Shui-bian Will Not Get a Fair Trial in Taiwan.

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Monday February 02, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

Chen Shui-bian will not get a fair trial in Taiwan. This is not assessing whether he is guilty or not, but simply that he will not get a fair trial in Taiwan. Why? First, remember that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has always controlled the Legislative Yuan and that for three years they refused to appoint any members to the Control Yuan, the governmental watchdog, until they got a KMT president making the appointments of their own people whom they would approve.

From here, the evidence starts to mount. The disproportionate imbalance and lack of investigation and pursuit of KMT ex-Legislator Diane Lee who has walked away with an illegal US$3 million dollars is the first indication. The KMT is not interested in persecuting any of their own.

Then there are the prosecutors. Their job in Taiwan is put "to seek the truth" in a potential crime. In Chen's case, even before he was arrested and indicted; with minds made up, the prosecutors stated that they would resign if they did not find him guilty. The more appropriate and professional statement would be that they would resign if they did not find out the truth of the situation but who can ask professionalism of the KMT's prosecutors.

Equal justice? Compare, James Soong, a long-time pan-blue stalwart, had been convicted of money laundering three times in the past. He was never jailed; he was simply given a slap on the wrist and ordered to pay back taxes. Chen's prosecutors insist on getting life imprisonment.

Are any KMT personnel in jail? President Ma Ying-jeou's secretary is for money laundering; he deposited a half a million US$ dollars into Ma's account, not his own. Yet the KMT court excused Ma of any fault, he alone took the fall.

Then there is the stacked deck. After Chen had been imprisoned on indictment, the court let him free to prepare for trial. The prosecutors appealed this twice and were denied. Though the charges against Chen were more than two years old, the prosecutors claimed they did not want Chen to talk with or collude with others. After two denials, they then asked for and got a judiciary more favorably inclined to their position. The new judge acquiesced with their wish and put Chen back in prison.

This increased the prosecutors' advantage of a stacked deck. The prosecutors insisted on having all conversations between Chen and his lawyers recorded. Tantamount to eaves-dropping on lawyer-client privilege, this granted the accused no privacy and allowed the prosecutors the full advantage of knowing what the defense strategy would be even as it was being planned. Finally, a higher court finally stepped in and ruled that this was unconstitutional, but the ruling would not go into effect until May 1st long after the trial was underway.

A side note here; the media has always touted Ma Ying-jeou as the Harvard educated lawyer though he never passed the bar exam in the United States or Taiwan. Likewise Ma always speaks of himself as a man for the Constitution. One would think that any person with such an education would know that the Constitution protected lawyer-client privilege, in particular after Ma's professor repeatedly warned him against the erosion of justice and the importance of Chen getting a fair trial. However, Ma, the little white rabbit who does not want to get his hands dirty let his prosecutors have their way until the Constitution stopped them.

The prosecutors further displayed their lack of professionalism and integrity by performing a skit mocking former President Chen Shui-bian at a year end party attended by both prosecutors and judges. The Minister of Justice lamely tried to condone this unprofessional behavior by claiming it was just in fun. With the Minister of Justice making excuses for the prosecutors behavior, there is little question that the scales of justice have long been dismantled in Taiwan.

Finally, there have been consistent "leaks" and half-truths spread to the media, many of which could only have come from the prosecutors office. These proclaim Chen as guilty even before the trial begins.

In review, there is no question that large sums of money have passed from Taiwan to bank accounts overseas. What most fail to realize and grasp that this practice of campaign funds and discretionary position funds has been going on for over fifty years in Taiwan. Taiwan has a corrupt system developed by the KMT in their one-party state days that has always allowed this. It is only after 9/11 that the USA to seek out those funding terrorists had insisted that all large amounts of cash being transferred from bank to bank be brought to light. This happened after the KMT had lost the presidency.

Taiwan has also never had transitional justice and the money from the ill-gotten state gains the KMT seized in the 1950s has always been laundered this way by members of the Legislative Yuan and other governmental bodies.

Likewise Taiwan has always had a guanxi system which not only allows but expects individuals and corporations as well to contribute sums of money to get more favorable attention. This happens at all levels from the education field to the medical field to the government offices. It is a culturally grey area. To fabricate guilt, however, all that is needed is for corrupt prosecutors to pressure indicted individuals to say that their guanxi contributions were in reality bribes. The disparity of treatment to James Soong, Diane Lee and Ma Ying-jeou is only the tip of the iceberg of a corrupt system that points to how billions of dollars of the people's money has consistently been allowed to be transferred to bank accounts overseas.

So, will Chen Shui-bian get a fair trial? He hasn't so far, and he has committed the ultimate sin. As a Taiwanese he has made money off of a system that was designed and set up exclusively for the KMT. That cannot go unpunished.