Taiwan Political Prisoner Report, Jan. 9, 2013. Wu Shu-chen, the former First Lady of the Republic of China in-exile, convicted of a perjury charge, has been spared a prison cell like the one where her husband, Chen Shui-bian, has been confined. Wu, paralyzed since 1985 when she was ran over several times by a truck at a political event, would present significant care needs for her ROC jailers if she was imprisoned and was placed under house arrest in 2011.
The petite woman greeting us in a modest Taipei apartment was at once polite, humble, gracious, and friendly. Unfortunately, the occasion was not so friendly. I was there to ask her about corruption, to confront her face-to-face about whether she took money she should not have taken.
“It was an unfair trial for a number of reasons,” said Wu.
“First, the judge who ruled twice [for Chen] was replaced by another judge. The first judge released Chen and just ordered him to remain in Taiwan, that was enough. Somehow the KMT or the prosecutors got that judge replaced with another judge who released Ma before. So that was one reason, unusual judicial procedures”
“Because there are so many accusations against Chen, there are different cases. In the traditional process, under the common process when there are small cases they should have been merged into more serious cases. Insignificant cases will be merged with more significant cases. Then the judge of the significant case becomes the sitting judge. However, they did it the other way around,” explained Wu.
“The judge who released Ma Ying Jeou before, probably a good friend of Ma Ying-jeou, he was the sitting judge of the insignificant case but then it was merged with the significant case into the insignificant case. Therefore that particular judge became the sitting judge,” Wu said. “It is clear they are manipulating the process. They control the sitting judge.”
“In the scenario we are involved with Mr. Koo, who was involved in certain cases, he was at liberty in Japan and with the amount of money involved he should have been in custody. However, one of the special prosecutors flew to Japan to meet Mr. Koo and made arrangements with Mr. Koo to come back to Taiwan, on the condition that he would accuse, make a false statement to accuse President Chen, in the so-called Long-Tan case involving $300 million NT. So Mr. Koo came back, apparently it was all prearranged, he was not in custody and he even knew he would be granted bail. In court, he produced from his pocket a check to pay his bail,” said Wu.
“However, the accusation did not go well. Mr. Koo, although he made the false allegations, he said some things that were true and that antagonized the prosecutors and the judge. So eventually the high court sentenced Mr. Koo to nine years in his own case. So the attorney for Mr. Koo argued that there was an agreement, “We did what we were told.” Somehow there was a mismatch somewhere,” recounted Wu.
“This is the case, even today, is the only guilty case that put President Chen in jail. This is the critical one. Usually, the Supreme Court does not do the sentencing. The Supreme Court either approves or rejects the sentence.” Wu said, “However, in this particular case the sentencing was done by the Supreme Court so they can quickly put Chen in jail. Totally out of the ordinary of legal procedures.”
Wu explained about the case alleging misuse of public funds, “The replacement judge first sentenced Chen to sixty-some years. The high court reduced the sentence to some twenty years.” Wu continued, “President Chen then appealed to the Supreme Court and they reviewed the case and returned it to the high court which retried the case and found Chen not guilty at all. So in the case involving public money, President Chen is not guilty.”
“In the pocket money case he was found not guilty, however, the prosecutor appealed to the Supreme Court and asked them to review the high court decision. Definitely he is not guilty but they keep trying,” Wu emphasized.
“The presidency involves a lot of secret diplomacy with other countries. And they ask for money. They ask a lot. In order to maintain a relation, the president must give them something in return. It is impossible to give a receipt for that kind of exchange. Of course the money needs to be accounted for but it complicates the accounting process. So receipts are made to cover the amounts used, it is just an expense report. It has been done by President Chiang Kai-shek, President Chiang Ching-kuo, and President Lee Teng-hui. They all do the same.” Wu said, “But now the KMT uses this as a tool to accuse President Chen in court.”
“The president knows certain things that should not be told to the public in court, whether the money went to a foreign head or a civil rights activist in China. Taiwan has supporters in China. The KMT knows about this but purposely tries to make a charge to keep power,” Wu sighed.