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Taiwan's opposition asks to nullify election
Updated: 2004-03-30 14:46

As protests against "unfair election" enters the ninth day on March 29, more than 1,000 people continued their sit-in demonstration at the central square of Taipei city, and the opposition filed a petition to the judicial authorities to nullify the election.

Protestors delivered speeches one by one on the spot, expressing their view on the "unfair election" and calling for investigation into the truth of the shooting at Chen Shui-bian and Annette Lu during the election campaign.

Three overseas "investigation experts" arrived at Taiwan Monday at the invitation of local procuratorial organ, while the island's "national security director" Tsai Chao-ming handed in his resignation on March 29, saying he should be held responsible for the happening of the shooting on March 19.

Late Monday night, lawyers for the Nationalist Party candidate Lien Chan filed a petition to nullify the March 20 election with the "high court," party spokesman Justin Chou said. And the Taiwan's judicial organ on Tuesday began considering the request to nullify Chen Shui-bian's narrow re-election. The opposition party argues, the election was marred by voting irregularities and a suspicious election-eve shooting that wounded Chen and his running mate Annette Lu.

Lien's petition cites three reasons for nullifying the election: the mysterious shooting; unfair campaigning and the fact that a large number of service men and women were barred to casting their votes due to activation of the "national security mechanism."

Chen once said when Lien's petition is filed, he would send a letter to the "high court" requesting that it skip the hearing process and begin the recount immediately. The opposition now urges Chen to abide by his words. The court has yet to set a date for the recount.

Solving the shooting mystery could be key to defusing the election controversy. Lien has insinuated that the president staged the shooting to get a boost from last-minute sympathy votes. Chen's margin of "victory" was less than 30,000 votes.

Lien's Nationalists and Chen's Democratic Progressive Party agreed Monday to consider passing a law that would set up a special commission to probe the shooting. Lien has said he doubts the foreign investigation team will be impartial.

The team began analyzing bullets, blood samples, medical photos and other evidence Monday from the March 19 shooting that grazed Chen's abdomen. The gunshot slightly injured Chen as he was campaigning in an open vehicle.

The team leader, Dr. Cyril H. Wecht, suggest the conspiracy theories that Chen faked the shooting seemed unlikely, but refuses to jump to conclusions before a thorough investigation.

"Looking at this wound, it is consistent with a gunshot wound," said Wecht, who also helped investigate the death of former Federal Bureau of Prisons intern Chandra Levy, and consulted on high-profile cases ranging from the Kennedy assassinations to the death of Elvis Presley.

The team, invited by Taiwan authorities, includes forensics expert Henry Lee, who has investigated several prominent cases including those of O.J. Simpson and JonBenet Ramsey. Lee is expected to arrive April 12 after analyzing the material collected by his team.

Also on the U.S. team were ballistics expert Michael G. Haag and crime-scene analyst Timothy Palmbach. They arrived Sunday and planned to leave Tuesday.

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