Court issues arrest warrant for talk show host

The Taipei District Court on Friday issued an arrest warrant for a former political talk show host accused of defamation against President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) after he failed to appear twice before the tribunal.

The court said it had issued an arrest warrant for Dennis Peng (彭文 正), who accused Tsai of falsifying his college degrees, after learning he was in the United States.

Peng did not appear at court hearings on July 28 and October 20, after being subpoenaed, the court said.

In response to the warrant, Peng said in a video posted to YouTube that he appeared for an earlier hearing and allowed his lawyers to attend subsequent hearings on his behalf due to scheduling conflicts preventing him from appearing. in person.

“I had requested to attend the hearings by videoconference, but the request was denied,” he said.

Peng said that while in the United States, he received text messages that worried him for his safety if he returned to Taiwan, adding that the country’s COVID-19 prevention measures would force him quarantining himself for 14 days would prevent him from “doing all the things that need to be done” to investigate the legitimacy of Tsai’s college degrees.

The former National Taiwan University (NTU) professor has repeatedly stated that Tsai never completed his thesis to earn a JD from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 1984.

In a March 31 indictment, the Taipei District Attorney’s Office said investigators determined that Tsai had completed his thesis, passed an oral exam and earned his doctorate.

Prosecutors charged Peng with aggravated libel for disseminating inaccurate information for his personal gain, including to increase viewership for his online talk show True Voice of Taiwan.

The indictment came after Tsai filed a lawsuit in September 2019 against Ho De-fen (賀德芬), professor of law emeritus at the NTU; Hwan C. Lin (林 環 牆), associate professor of economics at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte; and Peng, after stating that his diplomas were bogus.

The district attorney’s office decided not to indict Ho and Lin, claiming that the two rechecked their claims as best they could before laying their charges.

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Javier E. Swan