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Former president to file suit against defense minister

ROC Central News Agency

2008-05-26 23:52:22

    Taipei, May 26 (CNA) Former President Chen Shui-bian will file a defamation suit against Minister of National Defense Chen Chao-min after the latter implied that the assassination attempt on the eve of the 2004 presidential election was staged, a former legislator said Monday. "Chen has entrusted me to file the suit with the Taipei District Court Tuesday, " said Hsu Kuo-yung, a former lawmaker of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) who is also a lawyer.

    Answering a DPP legislator's questions at his first hearing in the Legislative Yuan's Foreign and National Defense Committee last Monday, Chen Chao-min claimed that the wounds on the former president's abdomen were not caused by the shooting on Chinhua Street in southern Taiwan's Tainan City on March 19, 2004.

    He further said his remarks were based on the investigations conducted by the 319 Shooting Truth Investigation Special Committee, of which he was a member. The committee was also known as 319 Truth Committee.

    His remarks not only drew broadsides from the DPP-led "pan-green" camp but also spurred criticism from within his own Kuomintang (KMT) ranks.

    While Chen Shui-bian and his supporters viewed Chen Chao-min's remarks as defamation to the former president's reputation, some KMT lawmakers felt it was unfit for Chen Chao-min to comment on the shooting case at a legislative committee session as the case was irrelevant to his current official duties.

    Chen Chao-min apologized for his remarks Monday in his first informal meeting with local reporters since assuming office. "I apologize because my remarks hurt the image of the military, " Chen Chao-min said, adding that what he said simply conveyed the conclusions of the 319 Truth Committee. He further said he will respect Chen Shui-bian's rights if the former president insists on suing him over the remarks.

    In response, Hsu said Chen Chao-min didn't apologize to Chen Shui-bian and had hurt his reputation. "As s result, I suggested to Chen Shui-bian to sue Chen Chao-min," Hsu said.

    With Chen Shui-bian's consent, Hsu said he will file the suit with the Taipei District Court Tuesday.

    The 319 Truth Committee was created in 2004 at the initiative of the then-opposition "pan-blue" alliance led by the KMT to look into the incident.

    The shooting occurred when Chen Shui-bian and then Vice President Annette Lu were campaigning in a jeep in Tainan City. Both Chen Shui-bian and Lu were slightly injured in the incident.

    The "pan-blue" camp claims that the shooting was the main reason behind Chen Shui-bian and Lu's narrow victory in the 2004 election as it generated sympathy votes.

    The official investigation was closed in August 2005 with a report saying that Chen Yi-hsiung, an outspoken critic of Chen Shui-bian residing in Tainan City who was found dead 10 days after the shooting incident, was the gunman.

(By Sofia Wu)

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