Monday, August 18, 2008

The Prosecution of A Bian Has Just Begun

The Prosecution of A Bian Has Just Begun
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
August 18, 2008

The Chen Shui-bian money-laundering case has reached the stage where the public is ready to stone him to death. Even the President of the Control Yuan, whose duty is to determine legal responsibility, has openly spoken out on about the matter, reflecting public demands for the Chen family to commit hara kiri. In terms of moral stature, Chen Shui-bian now rates with kidnapper and murderer Chen Chin-hsing. He has essentially been convicted in the court of public opinion. His coffin has yet to be nailed shut, but his epitaph as already been written. In fact, in terms of the judicial process, we have only just begun to discover the truth.

Chen Shui-bian's press conference and apology was anything but a confession. He has been aware of his plight for a long time. He has cooly marshalled his forces. With his lawyers at his side, he struck a preemptive blow. He used misdirection. He confessed to a lesser crime to evade prosecution for a far more serious crime. What passed for an apology, was in fact an attempt to evade justice. In fact he failed to confess to any crime whatsoever. Instead he threw in the kitchen sink while pretending he was serving up God's own truth. One of the key issues is how much money is actually involved? Where did the money come from? Who handled it? Who knew about it? When did they know about it? Former President Chen is playing it close to the vest. The most important question is: Whose money is it? If it belongs to the nation, how can we get it back? The Chen Shui-bian family long ago jetissoned any moral scruples they might have had. They are willing to do anything to keep the immense wealth they accumulated over the years. They are using all sorts of arguments to create confusion. They have already succeeded in making matters more complicated and confusing than they really are. When it comes to legal thrusts and parries, they have already seized the initiative.

Speaking of revealing the truth, the public has endured an eight year nightmare. It surely knows A Bian is hiding the truth. He is a master at all manner of underhanded tricks. He is adept at using his authority to transform politicians and businessmen into his minions. Ostensibly the victim of the March 19 Shooting Incident, A Bian made sure that prosecutors and police identified Chen Yi-hsiung, a dead man unable to defend himself, as the assassin, and hastily closed the case. Abusing the power of the executive, he ensured that even the Grand Justices' constitutional interpretations obstructed the Truth Commission's investigation, and kept the truth hidden until today. His son in law Chao Chien-ming, his son in law's father, along with other family members and cronies, engaged in unbridled corruption under Chen's aegis. When Red Shirt Army members took to the streets, the DPP excommunicated the "Eleven Brigands" and backed Chen 100 percent. Legal proceedings against the Chen and Chao families drag on. Nobody is asking questions about A Bian's involvement in the transfer of funds. Instead, Red Shirt Army protest leaders have been subjected to criminal prosecution. The State Affairs Expenses case is a classic example. Out of thin air, Chen Shui-bian, invoked criminal immunity and confidentiality privileges and got off scot-free. He exploited Wu Shu-chen's poor health to the hilt. The Grand Justices' constitutional interpretation process has been reduced to a tool by which Chen can obstruct the trial process. It has allowed the Grand Justices to willingly provide him with confidential legal advice. The judicial process is supposed to disover the truth. But before the evidence was declassified, it was at a complete loss what to do. Just exactly who in A Bian's family lusted after money as if it were life itself, and amassed vast sums of it? Who forced corporate giants to compete with each other paying tribute, or else find themselves entangled in lawsuits, bankrupt, out of house and home, with no one to complain to? Rumors flew. But the judicial system merely watched with folded arms, not daring to approach. What is the truth? So far no one has bothered to ask.

To defend his family's vast enterprises "in the public interest," Chen is fighting tooth and nail. The truth has suddenly been laid bare. Investigators and prosecutors are not up to the job. Former Bureau of Investigation Chief Yeh Sheng-mao has already confessed he received word early this year, but neglected to take action. Prosecutor General Chen Tsung-ming made the mistake of denying that Yeh Sheng-mao reported the facts to him, face to face. Should the Control Yuan investigate, and find out just exactly who told whom, or who didn't tell whom? Did Chen Shui-bian receive advance reports, allowing him to take countermeasures? The Ministry of Justice received confirmation about the money laundering operation from the Swiss government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Why then were Chen Chi-chung and his wife allowed to leave the country? Why was no action taken before A Bian made his move? Are prosecutors incompetent? Or are they pulling their punches? Are they adept at internecine struggles, but too cowardly to enforce the law?

Let's not forget that A Bian has never pulled his punches when dealing with the judiciary. His record speaks for itself. He sees the Prosecutor General as his subordinate. Without the slightest hesitation, he openly accuses prosecutors and investigators of colluding with legislators to leak state secrets. If court rulings fail to meet with his approval, he has never been known to mince words. He has openly blasted the Kaohsiung and Taipei Courts for being politically incorrect. If the judical system gets in his way, even if the individuals involved were his mentors or marriage witnesses, they are unlikely to escape political retribution. The current Prosecutor General is one of Chen Shui-bian's hand-picked nominees. The public should not have to worry about prosecutors' determination to prosecute cases. But Chen Tsung-ming and Huang Fang-yan are such close friends, the public cannot help being skeptical. Doubts about political considerations are particularly difficult to shake off such in the prosecution of the Discretionary Fund case, given the diametrically opposite way in which Blue Camp and Green Camp defendants were prosecuted and the lack of any unified opinion. The examples are clear for all to see. The Grand Justices recently ruled that if the Premier did not take part in the appointment process, Executive Yuan personnel appointments were unconstitutional. This was an attack on the constitutionality of the appointment of the Attorney-General and on the legitimacy of the Special investigative Unit's handling of Chen's corruption case. The Prosecutor General wants people to believe he is a virtuous official. But he clings to his office, and leaves the impression that he is subject to political manipulation. When confronting Chen Shui-bian he leaves the impression that he is ready to do battle, that his team can unravel the mystery, discern the details, and uncover the truth. Are they merely incompetent? Are they pulling their punches? Are they adept only at internecine struggles? Whatever they are, they are unable to get to the truth.

The impartial and incorruptible Eric Chen and Tsai Shou-hsun have been unable to do anything about the Chen family's power. Public sentiment may be on their side, but it is not enough to galvanize an incompetent or corrupt prosecution. When the case reaches the courts, whether at home or abroad, the evidence must be unassailable. Only then will we get a criminal conviction, and in addition demand civil compensation. Is our law enforcement team up to the challenge?

中國時報  2008.08.18

陳水扁涉及洗錢案,似已到了國人皆曰可殺的地步!甚至連職司追究法律責任的監察院長,也不忌諱公開發言的分際,忘情地應和民眾要求切腹的俚語。從政治道德 面上說,陳水扁正猶如當年的陳進興,恐已罪狀定讞,人未蓋棺而評論先定。從司法追訴面看,真相的發掘,其實才剛剛開始。

不要以為陳水扁 的道歉記者會是在自首自白。他知情已久,從容布陣;帶著律師,主動出擊。看他指東打西,避重就輕;名為道歉,實為脫罪,根本沒有承認犯罪,和盤托出事實真 相的意思!特別最關鍵的究竟有多少錢?錢是那裡來的?誰在搬運?誰知其事?何時知情?統統諱莫如深。最重要的問題是:錢是誰的?如果是國家的,怎麼拿回 來?陳水扁一家早已毫無政治道德顧忌,為了保住多年來千方百計賺得的鉅額財富,藉由種種說詞故布疑陣,已經成功地使得事情更為撲朔迷離。在司法攻防上,早 就占盡先機。

說到揭露真相,國人八年夢覺,應知阿扁本人就是掩蓋真相、無所不用其極的大內高手;精擅於藉用熏天權勢,驅使政客商賈與公 權力機關為其爪牙。他是三一九槍擊案受害人,卻支持檢警輕率認定死無對證的陳義雄為凶手草草結案,又動用行政權力甚至大法官釋憲排山倒海防阻真調會調查, 至今真相難明;其婿趙建銘父子與其府內所屬,藉其庇蔭貪腐無節,紅衫群眾上街,民進黨誅排十一寇全力相挺,至今司法程序未盡,此中阿扁有何瓜葛無人追問, 反而是紅衫運動諸君子相繼面臨刑事制裁;國務機要費案尤其經典,阿扁以無中生有的手法,將刑事豁免與機密特權,舞出漫天雲霞,又將吳淑珍的健康發揮的淋漓 盡致,大法官釋憲程序也成了阻滯審判的工具,還讓大法官心甘情願地為他提供事後隔空指定機密的法律諮詢,致使發現真實的司法作業,在註銷機密之前一籌莫 展;至於阿扁一家,究竟有誰嗜財如命,聚歛無度,讓企業鉅子們競相朝貢報效,官司纏身、家破人亡也無處訴苦?更是謠言滿國,卻始終司法袖手,近身不得,真 相如何,迄今無人問津。

此際阿扁為了保衛其家族偌大產業「從事公益」的機會而全力拚搏,一下子就讓檢調機關不是對手的真相戳穿。前調查 局長葉盛茂已然自承年初得訊,疏於行動;檢察總長陳聰明則矢口否認當時葉盛茂曾經面報。監察院該不該調查一下,究竟是誰告訴了誰?還是誰沒告訴誰?阿扁當 時是否已獲報告,才有當下的好整以暇?法務部既從外交部得知瑞士方面洗錢查證,為何能讓被查證的陳致中夫婦從容離境?為何在阿扁出手前了無動靜?檢調機關 究竟是無能?還是放水?或是勇於內鬥,卻怯於執法?

不要忘記阿扁對司法可是絕不手軟,紀錄斑斑。他視檢察總長為部屬,總是喚入府內交代 辦案原則;他在群眾面前指責檢調人員勾結立委洩密,略無遲疑;審判見解不順其意,他也向來不假辭色,高雄與台北的法院,均曾公開受到政治叱責;司法擋路, 就算是授業恩師、結婚證人,也難倖免其政治勢力的摧殘。現在的檢察總長原係阿扁欽點提名,國人本不該因此擔心其有無辦案決心,但是陳聰明與黃芳彥的交情如 何,怕是揮之不去的疑問;檢方在特別費案中難以擺脫政治顧忌,首鼠兩端而不統一見解,歷歷在目;大法官最近認定行政人事任命若無行政院長參與即屬違憲,更 為檢察總長任命的合憲性、特偵組辦案的正當性成為攻擊痛腳,恐添變數。如果檢察總長予人好官自為,戀棧其位,可受政治左右的印象,面對阿扁滿門精英嚴陣以 待,他的團隊能夠抽絲剝繭、明察秋毫,成功地在法院之中發現真實,揭露真相嗎?無論是無能,還是放水,或是內鬥為能的檢調機關,必然都無法揭露真相!


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