Can Chen Shui-bian Get a Fair Trial? Taiwan's Prosecutors Leave More Smoking Guns.

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Tuesday February 24, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

Anyone who lived through the Watergate scandal and obstruction of justice will readily recall Rose Mary Woods and the "smoking gun" 18 minutes of erased tapes to protect President Nixon. In Taiwan, we are having some similar experiences though it appears that the ones erasing tapes and leaving the smoking guns are not Chen Shui-bian's lawyers, but the KMT Court Prosecutors who are supposed to be protecting evidence and upholding justice.

It seems the prosecutors are now conveniently editing the results of their questioning of witnesses in order to suit their case. They are keeping what supports their argument from the witnesses and omitting what may be damaging to their case.

Remember, Chen's lawyers already were at a great disadvantage from the prosecutors insisting that all conversations between Chen and his lawyers be taped so they could listen in and see what defense he is planning. This was finally ruled illegal according to the Constitution but the illegality does not go into effect until after May 1; that means all the illegal evidence can still be used at least up until that time.

Chen's lawyers first noticed that 30 minutes of transcription did not have a tape to verify it. These 30 minutes were just blank on the tape. Shades of Rose Mary Woods. The prosecutors said they still had the transcripts even though the tape could not be produced to verify what was said.

Next, Chen's lawyers found that a two hour questioning of Koo had been reduced to 30 minutes; the prosecutors said only substantive material was kept. Substantive? To who's case? The prosecutors stated that Koo had the chance to sign off on the transcripts and did, but who, after two hours of grilling, can remember all of what he said and check whether it had been included in the pages and pages of testimony. Will Chen get a fair trial; it seems not if Taiwan's prosecutors can help it.