Prosecutors Fight 'Em Tooth and Nail, Judges Turn 'Em Loose
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
December 17, 2008
The Special Investigation Group has completed phase one of its investigation of the Chen family's four major corruption cases. We can now draw some general conclusions about the defendants, the prosecutors, and the judges.
Prosecutors have indicted 14 defendants. They are seeking heavy sentences for four members of the Chen family. They are seeking light sentences for the other defendants. The reason is simple. The other defendants have come clean. They have also returned the money they took. The prosecution even requested immunity for some of them. The four members of the Chen family however, are stubbornly refusing to own up to their crimes. That is why prosecutors are seeking the heaviest possible penalties.
Based on evidence released by the prosecutors, and the huge sums repaid by other accomplices, the four members of the Chen family will find it difficult to elude justice. That being the case, the Chen family's stubborn refusal to cooperate is unwise. Chen Chi-chung and Huang Jui-ching are still young. They have long lives ahead of them. Are they really prepared to endure social ostracism for the rest of their lives? Do Wu Shu-chen and Chen Shui-bian really have the heart to drag Chen Chi-chung and Huang Jui-ching down with them?
Ah-Bian and Ah-Cheng's criminal behavior needs no further elaboration. Instead, let's look at the prosecution's enumeration of Chen Chi-chung and Huang Jui-ching's crimes. Both received higher educations. Neither is ignorant. One billion NT suddenly appears out of nowhere. How can they not know where it came from? Chen Shui-bian and Wu Shu-chen squirreled away 740 million NT in a Cathay United Bank vault. Chen Chih-chung and Huang Jui-ching have been in the vault at least twice. If the money was legitimate, why would they pass up the opportunity to earn a enormous amount of interest? Why pay substantial storage fees to let the cash sit idle in a vault? The two were also heavily involved in other overseas money laundering operations. They were unquestionably accomplices. The prosecution described how Chen Chi-chung and Huang Jui-ching behaved when they entered the vault and examined the 700 million dollars in cash. It was not a pretty picture. Add to this their unrepentant attitude following the commission of their crimes. The public is going to have a hard time forgiving them.
What's next? The four members of the Chen family should consider their situation carefully. When the trial begins, they should adopt the appropriate attitude, and offer the appropriate responses. If they stubbornly refuse to acknowledge responsibility, if Wu Shu-chen refuses to appear in court for the 18th time, if Chen Shui-bian runs amok, alleging "political persecution," they will only aggravate the Chen family's crimes. They will probably receive the maximum sentences allowed by law, and the eternal censure of the public on Taiwan.
As far as the prosecution is concerned, the Special Investigation Unit's performance can rightly be described as incompetent. A prosecutor's bill of indictment should not contain equivocations. It should not contain emotional language. It should factually enumerate the Chen family's crimes. It should provide evidence of crimes for public inspection. Prosecutors should not intentionally abet criminals. Nor should they arbitrary add criminal charges. These are the prosecutors' duties. As they follow up their investigation of the Second Financial Reform scandal, and the Secret Diplomacy scandal, the Special Investigation Unit should make a concerted effort to get to the bottom of things, and provide the public with a better understanding of the case.
Furthermore, prosecutors should pay attention to the public mood, and take advantage of the raised morale created by the Special Investigation Unit's handling of the case. They should take on major cases they failed to investigate in the past. They should transcend partisan loyalties. Regardless of their personal status, they should resume investigating and not let anyone off lightly. This would inject a breath of fresh air into the system, giving the justice system a prestige unprecedented in the nation's history. It would set bounds of propriety for politicians. It would establish inviolable standards of right and wrong for political struggles, making an unparalleled contribution to the nation's future.
The court has released Chen Shui-bian without bail, provoking intense controversy. Many people think the judges had good reason for the way they handled this first of four waves of prosecutions. But judges know defendants are likely to use the opportunity to coordinate their testimony. They know there will be a second wave of prosecutions. Yet they released Chen without demanding bail. Were they putting on a show of open-mindedness? Were they legal hacks? Or did they have ulterior motives? Moreover, the court stressed that Chen was not a flight risk. They made light of the possibility the suspects might coordinate their testimony. In fact Chen's lawyers have been brazenly coordinating their testimony. They have even denounced Yu Cheng-hsien for being too quick to spill the beans. Could this be what the court had in mind? Chen Shui-bian once again stands atop the commander-in-chief's observation deck. When the court comes up against Chen Shui-bian again, he will have mobilized his supporters. Wu Shu-chen will refuse to appear in court for the 18th time. Will the court be able to pass this test of its mettle?
The Special Investigation Unit has achieved a hard-won victory over the Chen crime family. Will it be defeated by a judge relaxed and kicked back in his chair?
2008.12.17 03:31 am
依檢方公布的犯罪事證，以及其他共犯紛紛繳還鉅額贓款等情形看來，扁家四人恐怕難脫罪責。既然如此，扁家若續採這種頑抗的態度和作法，在未來審判程序中， 恐怕極為不智。尤其是陳致中和黃睿靚還年輕，還有很長的未來，他們能夠背負著如此沉重的社會責難，走完人生嗎？陳水扁和吳淑珍又何其忍心拖著他們一起陪 葬？
扁珍的行為之惡劣，不待多言；且看檢方對陳致中和黃睿靚犯行的認定：兩人均係受有高等教育之人士，並非無知之輩，以其家庭經濟狀況，家中無故多出新台幣十 餘億元之鉅款，豈有不知來源之可能？陳水扁和吳淑珍藏匿在國泰世華銀行保管室的七億四千萬元鉅款，陳致中和黃睿靚至少兩度進入該保管室，若鉅款來源合法， 何以捨龐大的正當利息，反而花高額租金租用保管室藏匿？其餘海外洗錢行為，兩人介入更深，屬共犯殆無疑義。從檢方描述陳致中和黃睿靚進入保管室查看七億多 鉅款的不堪情狀，加上犯後倨傲頑劣的態度，豈能獲得國人原諒？
於今之計，扁家四人實應深思如何自處之道，在法院開始審理後，表現出適當的態度，方屬正確的應對方案。若是一方面仍然死不認錯到底，一方面吳淑珍又耍出 「十七次不出庭」的手段，而陳水扁亦仍四處趴趴走宣揚其「政治迫害論」，則唯有加深扁家四人的罪孽，恐將真的承受司法「最嚴厲之制裁」，以及國人永遠的責 難。
就檢方而言，特偵組這次的表現可謂稱職。檢察官的起訴書沒有花稍的語言，沒有激昂的陳詞，而是將扁家犯行如實道來，拿出證據供全體國人檢驗；既沒有故意縱 放，也沒有亂加罪名。這正是檢察官應有的本分。後續的「二次金改弊案」、「外交機密經費弊案」等，特偵組更要再接再厲，徹底查明追懲，並讓國人得悉案情的 完整真相。
更有進者，全體檢察官若能體察民意，利用這次特偵組辦案帶起的士氣，將過去應查而未查的大案，不分政治立場和黨派，不論其身分地位，均重啟調查絕不輕縱； 則不僅政治風氣將為之耳目一新，且國家司法威信將因此達到前所未有的境界，從而使政治人物有了行為界際，黨爭也有了不可踰越的分寸和是非標準。這將對國家 作出無可比擬的貢獻。
法院無保開釋陳水扁，引發議論。一般認為，就「首波四案」而論，法官此舉容或尚有說法；但若已明知被告串證動作頻仍，且有「第二波諸案」，卻仍無保開釋， 倘非故示開明，即是法匠行徑，甚至別有居心。何況，法院只在強調無逃亡之虞，卻對串供的風險避重就輕；如今聽任扁辦及律師頻頻作出串供式的放話，甚至羞辱 余政憲輕易認罪，這大概正是法院原即樂見之事吧？陳水扁再度站上總指揮的司令台，未來法院面對「施展魅力，挾制群眾」的陳水扁，及「十七次請假不請假皆不 出庭」的吳淑珍，能否勝任嚴峻的考驗？