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Taiwan ex-President Chen Shui-bian to stay in jail at least until late September

Taiwan ex-President Chen Shui-bian to stay in jail at least until late September

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Ex-President Chen Shui-bian will have to stay in custody for at least another two months until late September, the Taipei District Court announced Monday.
The ruling confirmed fears from his supporters that the court would extend his detention by two months for a third time running.
Chen was a strong suspect in a serious crime and still posed a flight risk, court spokesman Huang Chun-ming told reporters after the decision was announced. The other reasons to keep Chen in custody, such as fears he might influence witnesses and defendants and interfere with judicial procedures, were also still valid, Huang said.
The court also felt that the former president was interfering with the trial process by making calls to outsiders through intermediaries, Huang told reporters.
The court spokesman rejected allegations that Chen’s legal and human rights were being damaged, arguing that the decision to extend his custody was entirely legal.
The court first discussed the custody at a special hearing last Friday, but did not immediately announce its decision. Chen has been in custody as a suspect at the Taipei Detention Center in Tucheng, Taipei County, for 196 days since December 30. The court already lengthened his custody twice, until July 25.
Before last week’s hearing, Chen said through a spokesman that he was pessimistic about the outcome of the court’s deliberations.
Chen has pleaded innocent to various charges of corruption and money laundering, but the court sided with the prosecutors in ruling that he posed a flight risk and might tamper with evidence or influence witnesses and defendants.
The opposition Democratic Progressive Party and other Chen supporters recently launched a campaign for his immediate release. They say that regardless of his legal problems, he is still innocent until proven guilty and should be freed at once.
Supporters tied yellow ribbons around trees in a gesture of support for Chen over the weekend, while last week, the DPP presented the Presidential Office with a petition for Chen’s human rights signed by ten prominent academics.
The former president was unlikely to flee as his right foot was encased in plaster because of a fracture, former Vice President Annette Lu told reporters after visiting him Monday morning. Chen had asked to be taken to hospital for more professional care because the prison doctors were not specialists, but the detention center turned down his request, reports said.
The prison would pass on the report from its medical staff to a hospital for a ruling on whether he needed further care.
Chen was allowed visits to hospital twice before during periods of detention to receive treatment during hunger strikes.
His wife Wu Shu-jen’s health recently also gave cause for concern. The wheelchair-bound former First Lady spent two days in hospital last week after blood loss caused her blood pressure to drop.
In a separate development, Chen’s office said Monday the Presidential Office was behind accusations that he had misused NT$10 million in special fees during official foreign trips. The reports said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs provided him with the money before the visit but he never returned leftover funds after returning to Taiwan.
Each president was provided with an extra US$100,000 for eventual extra spending per overseas trip, Chen’s office said.
The baseless accusations were timed to influence the court ruling on his detention, Lu said. According to his advisers, the Presidential Office and the prosecutors were using the allegations as a form of revenge against Chen.


Updated : 2021-05-12 04:04 GMT+08:00