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Taiwan ex-President Chen Shui-bian back in prison after marathon court session

Former President Chen Shui-bian walks into the Taipei District Court yesterday for a custody hearing.

Former President Chen Shui-bian walks into the Taipei District Court yesterday for a custody hearing.

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Ex-President Chen Shui-bian returned to prison Tuesday after a marathon 12-hour session at the Taipei District Court overturned his release after an appeal by prosecutors.
The court decision came in the early hours of Tuesday, more than 12 hours after Chen, his three attorneys and prosecutors had started debates presided by a three-judge panel.
The court reasoned that Chen was likely to flee the country or destroy evidence if he remained free. The former First Family still held NT$570 million which was unaccounted for, an element which could contribute to his likelihood of fleeing overseas, the court said.
Since the charges Chen was indicted for carry a minimum prison sentence of seven years, that was also a reason to keep him in custody, court spokesman Huang Chun-ming told reporters.
The prosecutors of the Special Investigation Division also reasoned Chen could intimidate witnesses and co-defendants if he stayed outside of prison.
The former president was transferred to the Taipei Detention Center in Tucheng, Taipei County, just before 4 a.m. Tuesday.
In contrast to his previous bout in custody from November 12 to December 13, Chen is not being held incommunicado. His son Chen Chih-chung was scheduled to visit him Tuesday afternoon, cable stations said.
The former head of state was indicted on December 12 in four cases of embezzlement, corruption and money laundering involving up to NT$500 million. His wife, son, daughter-in-law and ten relatives, family friends, former close associates and government officials were also charged.
Tuesday morning’s Taipei District Court ruling came after a change of presiding judge, a point condemned by Chen’s attorneys and supporters as political interference by ruling Kuomintang lawmakers.
The previous judge, Chou Chan-chun, ordered Chen’s initial release on December 13 and rejected prosecutors’ first appeal on December 18. The court later decided to have Tsai Shou-shun, the judge who has been presiding over an embezzlement trial against Chen’s wife Wu Shu-jen since late 2006, take over all cases related to the ex-president.
Chen could still be released if the court accepts a petition from Chen’s attorneys requesting that Monday’s session be ruled invalid because of the change in judges.
Apart from the four cases Chen was indicted for, the SID prosecutors are also still investigating allegations that the former president embezzled secret diplomatic funds and received illegal payments from financial groups.
After Chen was detained, the SID prosecutors questioned former Chinatrust Financial Holding vice chairman Jeffrey Koo Jr., believed to be a key witness on relations between the former First Family and the financial world.


Updated : 2021-02-28 17:44 GMT+08:00