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Taiwanese prosecutors question Chen Shui-bian

Tsai Ming-cheh and James Lee released on bail, but are barred from leaving the country

Prosecutors questioned former President Chen Shui-bian yesterday for the first time since his detention on Nov. 12, while releasing two suspects on bail in his corruption and money laundering cases.
Instead of having Chen hauled in to their offices in downtown Taipei, three prosecutors visited him at the Taipei Detention Center in Tucheng, Taipei County. The investigators spent about two and a half hour inside, media reported.
Prosecutors and Chen's attorney, Cheng Wen-lung, released little about the topics of the conversation. Cheng is reportedly facing an investigation into whether he overstepped the boundaries of his task by relaying statements from the former president to the outside world.
Chen is on a hunger strike against his detention, claiming it forms part of a politically motivated campaign by the government to settle old accounts.
Earlier, the Supreme Prosecutors Office's Special Investigation Division also questioned former presidential aide Ma Yung-cheng, former Hsinchu Science Park administrator James Lee, and family friend Tsai Ming-cheh at its offices in downtown Taipei.
The questioning concluded with the freeing of Tsai and Lee. Tsai was released on bail of NT$3 million with restrictions on his whereabouts and a ban on leaving the country or venturing out to sea. Lee was released on bail of NT$500,000 with similar restrictions.
Tsai was detained on Oct. 2 on suspicion of accepting bribes in a land deal in Lungtan, Taoyuan County, and in construction work on the World Trade Center's Nangang Exhibition Hall in Taipei. Lee was taken into custody on Oct. 29 on suspicion of accepting bribes in the Lungtan land deal.
The release of the two men followed Thursday's freeing of former presidential cashier Chen Chen-huei after nearly two months of custody.
The sudden batch of releases sparked speculation in the media that the investigation was drawing to a close and indictments might be handed out next week.
There are still seven people in custody, including the former president, his brother-in-law Wu Ching-mao, Ma, former aide Lin Te-shun, former Vice Premier Chiou I-jen, former Interior Minister Yu Cheng-hsien, and retired Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau chief Yeh Sheng-mao.
Prosecutors yesterday also questioned former Mega Financial Holding chairman Cheng Shen-chih for a second time. He was listed as a defendant last month after investigators searched the offices of Media reports say he played a crucial role in moving funds around on behalf of the former first family.