Taipei District Court ruled Friday that the diaries of former presidents Chiang Kai-shek and Chiang Ching-kuo dating from their terms in office are property of Taiwan’s government, while those from their years as private citizens belong to the Chiang family.
The court’s decision, after five years of litigation, found that portions of the diaries from the two presidents’ terms in office belong to the Academia Historica under the Presidential and Vice Presidential Records and Artifacts Act, while the portions dating from outside those years can continue to be held as private property.
The dispute over the diaries dates to 2005, when Chiang Ching-kuo’s daughter-in-law Chiang Fang Chih-yi signed an agreement for the diaries to be curated for 50 years by Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.
After receiving conflicting claims of ownership to the diaries, Stanford University filed an interpleader action in the United States in 2013 to determine who held legal rights to the documents.
Later that year, when several members of the Chiang family transferred ownership of the diaries to Taiwan’s national archives, the Academia Historica, the institution was added into Stanford’s inquiry.
In 2015, the U.S. court ruled that the Academia Historica could first launch a legal inquiry into the diaries’ ownership in Taiwan, where most of the litigants are located.
In line with that decision, the academy filed its own lawsuit in Taipei District Court, which began oral arguments in November 2016.
However, the case was drawn out as the court sought testimony from several members of the Chiang family, while also allowing representatives of the academy and the Chiang family to inspect the full contents of the diaries at Stanford, where they remain.
The court’s ruling Friday, which can be appealed, brings the academy closer to its goal of returning the diaries to Taiwan, though the earlier case in the U.S. is still ongoing.
In response to the decision, Academia Historica Curator Chen Yi-shen said he respected the court’s findings and would wait to read the complete verdict before talking over the next steps with his legal team.
Chiang Wan-an, a great-grandson of Chiang Ching-kuo and lawmaker from the opposition Kuomintang (KMT), said that he had also yet to read the verdict, which he plans to discuss with his lawyers in Taiwan and the U.S.
“My goal throughout this has been to bring the diaries back to Taiwan as quickly as possible, and to make them available for historical research and the understanding of the general public,” Chiang said.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel