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Chen dismisses lawyers, refuses food

REFUSING TO FIGHT: A spokesman for the Taipei District Court said the former president would be given a court-appointed attorney if he dismissed his legal team

By Shelley Huang
Saturday, May 09, 2009, Page 1

Former vice president Annette Lu, left, talks with a guard after visiting former president Chen Shui-bian at the Taipei Detention Center yesterday. Chen has been on a hunger strike since returning to the detention center on Thursday. After seeing Chen, Lu said he was depressed, still refused to eat or drink and refused to seek medical treatment.



Former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) lawyers were informed on Thursday that they would be dismissed, one of Chen’s aides said yesterday, adding that Chen would not submit papers to the court on the dismissal of his lawyers but declare the decision in person when he appears in court on Tuesday.

Chen dismissed his lawyers because the judiciary is being unfair, “and he refuses to acknowledge Presiding Judge Tsai Shou-hsun’s (蔡守訓) illegal indictments and his illegal detention,” Chen’s office secretary Chiang Chih-ming (江志銘) told reporters after he visited Chen yesterday morning.

Chen has been detained at the Taipei Detention Center since Dec. 30 on charges of corruption and money laundering. On Thursday, after appearing weak at a court hearing on whether his detention should be extended, Chen issued a statement saying that he would not appeal and would immediately dismiss his attorneys and stop calling witnesses.

In the statement, Chen called on the presiding judge to “end this circus” and to hand him a life sentence. He repeated his accusations that the government was behind a politically motivated campaign against him. Chen has refused food or water since he was sent back to the detention center on Thursday.

Shih Yi-ling (石宜琳), one of Chen’s lawyers, said because Chen’s three lawyers still represent him as far as the court is concerned, they will accompany him to his trial on Tuesday.

Taipei District Court spokesperson Huang Chun-ming (黃俊明) yesterday said the judges would arrange for a court-appointed attorney to represent Chen if he dismisses his current lawyers.

In response to Chen’s wish to revoke his request to summon witnesses, Huang said that even if Chen didn’t want to call the witnesses, the court could still investigate and examine evidence.

“Even if it is against the defendant’s will, the prosecution and the court still have the right to investigate, but because they have not yet received the official papers, there is no way of knowing [whether this is Chen’s intention],” Huang said.

Legal analysts said that even if Chen decides to accept his sentence without appeal, the judges would still refer the case to the Taiwan High Court for further proceedings in accordance with the Code of Criminal Procedure (刑事訴訟法).

The district court said it would announce on Monday at the earliest whether Chen was to continue his detention. However, because the current term does not expire until May 26, the district court may delay its decision until May 25.

Former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) visited Chen yesterday and later told reporters that he looked “very depressed.”

Lu and former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator Luo Wen-chia (羅文嘉) went to the Taipei Detention Center to visit Chen, but he only agreed to see Lu.

After the visit, Lu told reporters that Chen was very unhappy because he felt he was not being given a fair trial.

When he was in court on Thursday, Chen displayed symptoms of physical discomfort, his whole body shook and he spoke amid intermittent coughs. Tsai cut the hearing short and Chen was escorted back to the detention center, the judges rejecting a request from Chen’s lawyers to have the former president hospitalized.

“I’ve known him for a long time, but I have never seen him this depressed,” Lu said. “He insists that he won’t see anyone, but he made an exception for me and told me this is the last time he would see me.”

Taipei Detention Center Deputy Director Lee Ta-chu (李大竹) said Chen got out of bed at 6:50am yesterday, as usual. However, he had not eaten or drunk anything since Thursday afternoon and refused to have his blood pressure taken.

“We will continue to keep an eye on his physical condition,” Lee said.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators were critical of the former president’s latest decision to stop eating or drinking.

Chen fasted in November last year and February this year to ­protest what he calls a political witch hunt against him by the government.

KMT Legislator Lee Ching-hua (李慶華) accused Chen of staging a show.

“If he’s going to write another will next time, I would suggest that he include a treasure map in it so that we will all know where he hid the money he embezzled,” Lee said.

KMT Legislator Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) shared Lee’s view, urging Chen to stop “faking” his illness.

Lo said that the DPP should stop shielding “a corrupt [former] president.”

“The case should be dealt with using the proper legal process,” she said.

Meanwhile, Minister of Justice Wang Ching-feng (王清峰) told reporters during a visit to the DPP caucus yesterday that whether Chen is allowed to seek medical help at a hospital escorted by law enforcement authorities would depend on the assessment of doctors at the detention center.

Wang said she could not interfere in Chen’s case because it was the responsibility of the state public prosecutor-general to decide how to handle the case.





Taiwanese statehood has a legal justification

By Lin Chia-lung 林佳龍
Saturday, May 09, 2009, Page 8

The Treaty of Peace between the Republic of China and Japan, commonly known as the Treaty of Taipei, was signed and came into effect in 1952. In considering the legal aspects of this treaty, it is essential to distinguish between the questions of jurisdiction over the territory of Taiwan and the legal status of the Republic of China (ROC).

While the former concerns a territorial dispute under international law, the latter is a matter of the nature of states and governments. The issues are quite different.

The Treaty of Taipei confirmed the terms of the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty. It could not lay down terms exceeding those in that treaty. In both treaties, Japan renounced its claim to the territories in question. The Treaty of Taipei does not mention to whom those territories would be transferred.

President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) opinion that the treaty confirmed the transfer of sovereignty over Taiwan and Penghu (the Pescadores) to the ROC simply does not comply with the facts.

From a legal point of view, the main point of the Treaty of Taipei was to deal with the question of which government had the right to represent China. According to the wording of the treaty, Japan signed it with “the Republic of China in Taiwan (Formosa) and Penghu (the Pescadores),” as opposed to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) government in Beijing.

By this wording, Japan made clear that the Chinese government it recognized was the one that then represented China in the UN — the ROC.

The situation now is quite different. The world largely accepts the principle of “one China” championed by the PRC government in Beijing. Those who claim that Taiwan belongs to the ROC reduce the Taiwan question to one resulting from the division of China through civil war.

These days there is no longer any question of two Chinas existing side by side, and the PRC is widely recognized as the successor state to the ROC.

That being the case, those who equate Taiwan with the ROC are actually providing the government in Beijing with justification for claiming the right to inherit ownership of Taiwan.

Another school of thought holds that Taiwan’s sovereignty remains undetermined — an argument that has some legal validity. However, no other country lays claim to sovereignty over Taiwan. The ROC has exercised effective and stable rule over Taiwan for many decades. On these grounds, the ROC may claim ownership of Taiwan based on the principles of prescription and effective rule in international law.

If that be the case, and given that, as already mentioned, the PRC is successor to the ROC, then the former would have legal grounds for taking over Taiwan.

Both theories on Taiwan’s sovereignty — that it is undetermined and that it has been returned to China — treat Taiwan in the same way as when dealing with changes of territorial demarcation between international legal entities (states or international organizations).

In fact, Taiwan is not the object of a territorial dispute between China and any country.

The question is one of establishing Taiwan as a country in itself. It is not necessary for the inhabitants of Taiwan to first prove that Taiwan does not belong to China or that its legal status is undetermined as a precondition for declaring independence.

Just as with the US long ago, the inhabitants of Taiwan only need to clearly and unambiguously state their desire to establish a new state. Such a declaration would have a firm basis and justification in international law.

Let us be quite clear: Taiwanese people have the right to establish a country of their own.

Lin Chia-lung is a former Government Information Office minister.


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