Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Former "1L" Pleads Guilty to Corruption; Implicates Father, President

Chen Zhi Zhong (a.k.a. Chen Chih-Chung), the coolest 1L we never got to meet who lost his spot in the class when he didn't register (because he had been subpoenaed out of the country), has plead guilty to violations of the Taiwanese "Money Laundering Control Act". His wife has plead guilty as well. Chen, who was to be a 1L in § K this year before the unpleasantness, was the son of the "Blagojevich-of-the-Far-East", former Taiwanese President Chen Shuibian.

"I would like a conscientious retraction," said Chen, adding that he was unaware money-laundering was a violation of the honor code.

Here's a piece from the "Kuomintang News Network" (the Kuomintang or KMT is the party currently in power; the one that opposes Chen and his father):
Chen Chih-chung and [his wife] Huang Jui-ching have confessed. As part of a plea bargain, they are willing to reveal the whereabouts of more money, jewelry, and property . . . The Chen family corruption case has shown the public that as long as prosecutors investigate in earnest, and acquire a clear picture of the case, no matter how devious the criminals might be, they will eventually succumb to the evidence. Therefore, the cornerstone of justice is the prosecutor.
Wuh-oh. Former President Chen had just went through a hunger strike protesting his incarceration and declaring his innocence. But do the confessions of his son and daughter-and-law mean that it is tougher for the hero of Taiwanese independence to exonerate himself?
They [the Chens] may or may not have been sincere in their expressions of remorse. But legally speaking, their confessions will make it difficult for Chen Shui-bian and Wu Shu-jen to continue maintaining their innocence . . . . Since Chen Shui-bian and his wife have chosen plea-barganing, Ah-Bian [nick-name of former President Chen] cannot go innocent.

[The former President and his wife] are charged with felonies. According to the law, suspects charged with felonies cannot request a plea bargain. The most they can do is throw themselves on the mercy of the court and hope for lighter sentences. But Ah-Bian and Ah-Jen committed too many crimes, and the charges against them are too serious. No matter how lightly they are punished, prison terms are unavoidable. If they stubbornly maintain their innocence, Chen Chih-chung and Huang Jui-ching's confessions have already shattered the family's united front, making it difficult to explain away the contradictions in their stories. Public perception will be even more negative. The consequences will be even more serious.
At least they expressed remorse (we're reading The Stranger in Law & Literature . . .). Anyway, just imagine the Feb Club party Chen Zhi Zhong would have thrown! From another article (also gave us the picture):
Chen Shui-bian admitted last August that his wife had transferred money overseas without his knowledge after Next Magazine blew the cover on the US$20 million (S$30 million) the Chens held in a Swiss account. The bank account was held by the son and daughter-in-law.


An Update From Taipei [Law Weekly]
Chen Zhi Zhong: The Coolest 1L We Never Got to Meet
Media Circus Descends On the Law School [Law Weekly]
Taiwanese 1L Has Serious Daddy Issues [Above the Law]


Michael Turton said...

LOL. Actually, once Chen had conceded the money was illegal -- he said it is campaign donations -- the children were screwed.

Further, the KMT removed a judge who ruled in a way it didn't like, and moved Chen's case to a more pliable judge. The political signal is clear that Chen must and shall be convicted. Hence the children had no choice but to plead (something like) guilty -- their actual words ran along the lines of "if Dad is guilty so are we." It was a non-plea. LOL

More serious is not only the intense politicization of the trial that has removed any possibility of a fair trial, but also the trial by media that has taken place -- the quotes you have here from the Klingon News Network are good examples. The reality is that at the last minute the prosecutors slapped two more vague charges on Chen, because it is likely that despite all the cash, they cannot convict him of pillaging government funds (he;'s likely telling the truth that it is all donations). I suspect their strategy is going to be to find him innocent of that charge and convict him on the other stuff.

Had the KMT not so politicized the trial, they might still have a conviction. But the conclusion is now foregone.

A couple of other things should be noted. Now that Chen's accounts haev been worked over and all his associates have been detained, questioned, and searched, the KMT now has an excellent idea of the DPP's donor base. The "missing funds" are funds for overseas diplomatic work; Beijing has long wanted to know which groups in China are getting Taiwanese cash, and the KMT is busy finding out for its partner across the strait.

Finally, Chen is one of a group of DPP politicians picked up and detained for "corruption". His case is making the others disappear from the public eye, but they are going on nonetheless.

The View from Taiwan blog

Rule 12 (f) said...

TY for this Michael. I was in TW for ah-bian's recall attempt, but it looks like the political situaiton has intensified even since then.