Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Chen Shui-bian Blames His Attorneys For Urging Him to Conceal Evidence

Chen Shui-bian Blames His Attorneys For Urging Him to Conceal Evidence
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
December 31, 2008

After a 12 hour 30 minute marathon session, Tsai Shou-hsuing and the Full Court have taken the Chen corruption case into a new realm. One. The Full Court ruled that Chen Shui-bian will be returned to custody, but that he may receive visitors. Two. Chen Shui-bian has admitted that Chen Chih-chung and his wife are seeking a plea bargain. Three. Chen Shui-bian alleges that he classified the "Southern Front Project" as Top Secret on the recommendation of his attorneys and advisors. These developments introduce new political and legal factors into the Chen corruption case.

The main impact of taking Chen back into custody, but allowing him to receive visitors, will be political. The last time the Special Investigation Unit took Chen Shui-bian into custody, prosecutors dispatched officials to meet with his defense attorneys and videotaped the meeting. It may continue using this approach. Even though it will be allowing Chen to receive visitors, this approach should enable prosecutors to reduce the possibility of collusion. But since the prohibition on receiving visitors has been lifted, the Taipei Detention Center is likely to become Chen Shui-bian's public relations center and bully pulpit. For example, visits by Wu Shu-chen, Chao Chien-ming and his wife, and Chen Chih-chung and his wife, will all become front page news. Also, whether Tsai Ing-wen or any Green Camp personalities visit him, or fail to visit him, will become a political issue.

Detention is not the same as imprisonment. Chen Shui-bian may still be able to post bail and obtain release. His current efforts are undoubtedly a fight for re-release or release on bail. Next year's county magistrates and city mayors elections are also targets. If Ah-Bian is unable to play a role in next year's county magistrates and city mayors elections, he will lose a lot of his political bargaining chips. Therefore, regardless of whether he is kept in custody, he will attempt to manipulate the outcome of the county magistrates and city mayors elections. The only difference will be whether he can emerge from detention to campaign on behalf of the candidates. Either that, or an endless stream of candidates will visit him while he remains in custody. Chen Shui-bian knows he can not be optimistic about the outcome of his trial. Therefore he must make a last ditch effort on the political front. Being taken into custody but not being prohibited from receiving visitors, may provide Ah-Bian with the perfect bully pulpit. To the Democratic Progressive Party however, Ah-Bian being allowed to receive visitors amounts to headache, because whether or not DPP leaders ought to visit him will become a new bone of contention.

Chen Shui-bian says Chen Chih-chung and his wife are seeking a plea bargain, and would like to return 570 million dollars from their overseas accounts. This was what the Special Investigation Unit referred to when it described Chen and his wife as "unrepentant," and meriting "heavy punishment." It said the 570 million dollars, whose whereabouts were unclear, was evidence in danger of disappearing. Only then was it able to smoke Chen Shui-bian out of his lair. In order to save his son and his daughter-in-law, under pressure of being returned to custody, Chen Shui-bian was already vulnerable. Chen Chih-chung and his wife's plea bargain, at this late date, is less a plea bargain than an attempt to get off scot-free. Investigative authorities should demand that the "Cape 700 million" and the 570 million in the bank vault be returned. They should order the Chen family to map out their entire money-laundering operation, Including their accounts in the United States and Japan. Otherwise, how can their "confession" be considered a genuine confession? A genuine plea bargain?

During the hearing, Chen Shui-bian confessed that the "Southern Front Project" was phony. He blamed his attorneys for urging him to classify the "Southern Front Project" as Top Secret. This amounted to a confession that his classification of evidence as Top Secret was phony, and that his motive was to conceal evidence of criminal wrongdoing and obstruct justice. In other words, Chen Shui-bian has confessed to instructing his attorneys to conceal evidence, and of abusing the power of his office to destroy evidence. This of course is something the Special Investigation Unit also ought to investigate immediately.

With these revelations, Chen Shui-bian's protestations of innocence rang utterly hollow. They further undermined whatever trust might have existed among Chen Shui-bian, his codefendants, witnesses, attorneys, and supporters. On the one hand, Chen Shui-bian confessed that he fabricated the "Southern Front Project." On the other hand, he blames his attorneys and advisors. He did something similar when he leaked that Wu Li-pei laundered money for a "nation-building fund," when he leaked that Tsai Chen-yuan arranged to stash Chen's money in a bank vault, when he blamed Premier Yu Shyi-kun for the Longtan scandal, and when he leaked information about Lee Teng-hui's own money laundering operations. In short, anyone can become Chen's sacrificial victim, as long as he can help Chen gain acquittal, including Lee Teng-hui, Yu Shyi-kun, or Ku Li-hsiung.

Chen Shui-bian's lack of trustworthiness, his lack of scruples, his willingness to betray his comrades, ought to have alerted witnesses and defense attorneys to the dangers of colluding with Chen. Yesterday, after the court dajourned, Cheng Wen-long actually said he was unaware of any "plea bargain." Even Chen's own defense attorneys have been kept in the dark.

Tsai Shou-hsuing has succeeded in getting Ah-Bian back into custody. Chen Shui-bian originally claimed he was completely innocent. Then he admitted that Chen Chi-chung was seeking a plea bargain. Finally he claimed his attorneys and advisors urged him to conceal evidence. Tsai has essentially forced Chen Shui-bian to reenact his defense strategy, from beginning to end, and forced him to reveal a number of major holes in his story. This is beneficial to the future progress of the trial. The court's decision to detain Chen, but not prohibit him from receiving visitors, has responded to "civil rights" demands. But it has also left Chen Shui-bian walking a legal and political tightrope. It may seem to have provided a political stage for Chen Shui-bian. But it also leaves Chen Shui-bian vulnerable, caught between legal and political battlelines. When Chen must appear before a judge, or can campaign on behalf of a candidate, is not up to him.

According to the western calendar, it is New Year's Eve. Chen Shui-bian is back in custody. For the public on Taiwan, isn't this a case of "out with the old, and in with the new?"

2008.12.31 04:11 am

經過十二小時三十分鐘的審理馬拉松,蔡守訓的合議庭將扁案帶進了新情勢:一、合議庭裁定,陳水扁收押,不禁見;二、陳水扁供稱,陳致中夫婦正尋求認罪協 商;三、陳水扁又供稱,因律師團與幕僚建議,所以將虛假的「南線專案」核定為絕對機密。這類新發展,將使扁案在政治面及法律面皆出現新變數。

收押,不禁見;主要的效應將發生在政治面。由於特偵組在陳水扁前次羈押時,曾派有檢察事務官對律師會見進行錄音錄影;此一方法今後可能繼續採用,則雖開放 面會,串證風險應可管制。然而,禁見既解,北所即很可能成為陳水扁的新聞工廠與政治舞台。例如,吳淑珍、趙建銘夫婦、陳致中夫婦的探監,皆將成為新聞焦 點;再如,蔡英文是否探監,及綠營何人探監、何人不探監,亦將成為政治話題。

何況,羈押畢竟不是服刑,陳水扁仍有保釋或開釋的可能性;他當下的努力無疑是以再爭取開釋或保釋為首務,並以明年縣市長選舉前出監為目標。因為,扁若在明 年縣市長選舉中失去角色,他的政治籌碼將嚴重流失;所以,屆時不論他在押或出監,縣市長選舉皆將成為其政治操作的題材。差異僅在,若出監即可上台輔選,或 在押則可預見探監的候選人絡繹於途。陳水扁已知其訴訟結局無可樂觀,因而必將全力在政治面作最後拚搏;而「收押,不禁見」,對扁而言,也許正是吸引視聽焦 點的最佳舞台。但是,對民進黨而言,不禁見卻是頭痛的問題;因為,探監與否,勢將成為路線鬥爭的新標籤。

陳水扁供稱,陳致中夫婦正尋求認罪協商,並願將存在海外的五點七億匯回。這是在特偵組指陳致中夫婦「惡性不輕」並求「從重量刑」,及指五點七億下落未明而 有「湮滅證據之虞」的雙管濃煙齊下,將陳水扁這隻狐狸嗆出洞來。陳水扁為了拯救子媳,且在回押的壓力下,其無罪抗辯的防禦工事到此已崩裂了一個大缺口。但 是,陳致中夫婦至今日地步始有此舉,與其說是「認罪協商」,不如說是脫罪手段;偵審當局除應命其剋日將承諾匯回的海角七億及金庫五點七億匯到,亦當命其供 出全球洗錢的全圖,包括美日帳戶。否則,豈能視為「認罪」?又如何「協商」?

這次庭訊中,陳水扁供認「南線專案」是偽造的,並咬出是律師建議將「南線專案」核定為絕對機密;這不啻證實,其所稱絕對機密根本是假的,而核定為絕對機密 之目的,是在隱匿證據,干擾審判。換句話說,陳水扁供認了律師教唆他隱匿罪證,而他自己則利用職務湮滅證據;這當然是特偵組應立即追加偵訴的項目。

此一情節的揭露,進一步顯示陳水扁的無罪辯護已漸趨土崩瓦解,也可能進一步破壞了陳水扁與同案被告、證人、律師或支持者之間的信賴關係。其實,陳水扁可以 自己一肩承擔偽造「南線專案」的罪責,但他卻指控是律師及幕僚唆使;這與他主動洩漏吳澧培為「建國基金」洗錢,又主動爆料蔡鎮宇為他安排藏金庫,再主動指 控龍潭案是行政院長游錫?所指使,更演出「抓耙子」告發李登輝洗錢,皆可謂是異曲同工。反正,所有的人皆可能成為陳水扁自求脫罪的犧牲品,包括李登輝、游 錫?或顧立雄。


蔡守訓的羈押庭頗有斬獲。一方面,從陳水扁一開始的「全盤無罪辯護」到最後的「陳致中認罪協商」及「律師教唆隱匿罪證」,可謂已將陳水扁的通盤辯護架構 「演習」了一遍,並逼出了幾個重大缺口,有利未來審判之順利進行。另一方面,「收押,不禁見」的裁定,回應了「人權」的部分主張,卻亦使陳水扁將處於司法 與政治兩條戰線互動的高度緊張之中;這雖然看似為陳水扁提供了舞台,但也可能使陳水扁在司法及政治兩條戰線上皆陷於被動;因為,法官傳他出庭,與候選人利 用他探監造勢,皆非操之在扁。


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