Taiwan Political Prisoner Report, Jan. 22, 2013. Legislator Hsu Chung-hsin granted an interview about the case of former Republic of China in-exile President Chen Shui-bian. Hsu is not a member of Chen’s political party, the Democratic Progressive Party, but instead is one of three legislators serving under the Taiwan Solidarity Union banner. Legislator Hsu is also an attorney and law professor who speaks English. Hsu received his law degree from Cambridge University in Great Britain and is well positioned to provide an independent analysis of the controversial case.
Legislator Hsu got to the basics quickly: “I don’t think Chen Shui-bian got a fair trial. During the trial process they changed judges without giving any reasons. During the process there was some evidence not found credible or reliable. The whole process was not due process of law so this type of judgment cannot be justified.”
“As you know, we do not have jury trials so we rely on the prosecutors and we rely on the judges to do a fair job. But this judgment was not fair,” said Hsu. “The reason why they switched judges is because the former judge is more acceptable, so they changed judges, which is very unusual in Taiwan.”
“In the ruling on the judge there are some legal defects, inconsistencies and contradictions. We can only say the judgment in this case is based on undue process. The evidence and arguments have not been sufficiently evaluated.”
Legislator Hsu views the Chen case through the eyes of a native Taiwanese: “The process was politically influenced and the decision was politically motivated. We doubt the fairness of this case and a lot of people believe the reason the administration has put President Chen in jail is because Chen is for Taiwan independence. China and President Ma would like to put President in Chen in jail. If you are Taiwanese and lead a movement for independence you might get put in jail.”
“It was politically motivated and the reason is the case was involved with politics….But they used criminal crimes to put him in jail,” said Hsu explaining how Chen was deprived of recognition as a political prisoner.
“President Chen’s treatment [in prison] is so miserable; a small space about the size of a table for him. Our government says here in Taiwan because of so many prisoners everyone is treated the same, including President Chen. But other prisoners, they can work, which is a voluntary work in the factory to make some money. That work is a kind of exercise; it is good for your health. So even though at night you stay in a small space, in the day you work in the factory. For President Chen he is put in a small space even during the day, most of the time President Chen has to stay in the same room not going to the factory because they say some people will attack President Chen. They don’t want Chen to mingle with other prisoners,” said Hsu.
Legislator Hsu explained: “After we complain about that [close confinement] the prison gave him another cell. So at night he is in one cell and in the day he is in the other cell, the same small space. That is why we say we need special treatment for President Chen….No other country in the world treats a former president, even if the former president is guilty of some crime, like this. That is so brutal. That is why President Chen’s health, physical health and mental health, deteriorated so much. You can imagine how you can live in that small space for four years. That is terrible.”
“Now President Chen is in the hospital. If you put him back into prison then his health will be even worse. So we ask President Ma to let Chen stay in the hospital to get medical treatment,” said Hsu.
“We cannot allow him to be sent back to that kind of prison cell.”
Legislator Hsu is convinced that Ma Ying-jeou is personally responsible for Chen Shui-bian’s mistreatment. “Nobody would like to shoulder the responsibility because this kind of brutal behavior is so unacceptable so nobody will take the duty but actually, because President Chen was a leader with charisma in Taiwan, and they are sensitive to that, the only one who can make decisions about Chen is President Ma.”
“The Taiwan Solidarity Union has published ten reasons to oust President Ma but the list of reasons doesn’t mention President Chen’s treatment. So we have eleven reasons to get him out of office,” smiled Hsu.
“A jury system is a good one, I learned when educated in England. But a jury system is quite expensive,” said Hsu citing one reason the ROC has not implemented juries.
“If a jury system can be implemented here, I think President Chen’s case will not be so serious,” said Hsu.
“We will try to get a jury system one day.”
Next: Legislator Hsu-Chung-hsin says Taiwan is trapped between KMT and China