Sun, Sep 24, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Chen to be questioned a second time

PROSECUTORS' PROBE The Taiwan High Court Prosecutors' Office said authorities need another statement from Chen, but no date has been set

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Prosecutors said yesterday that they would interview President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) a second time as they pursue their investigation into the alleged misuse of a special state-affairs fund.

"We have interviewed a number of people as witnesses to learn why their receipts were used to seek reimbursements from the special state affairs fund, and now we will need a statement from President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) in order to compare his words with those of the witnesses," Prosecutor Eric Chen (陳瑞仁) of the Taiwan High Court Prosecutors' Office told the Taipei Times yesterday.

"But prosecutors have not decided when and where they will question Chen [Shui-bian]," he said.

Prosecutors said they found that many of the receipts submitted to the Presidential Office were from jewelry stores, watch shops and upscale department stores.

Prosecutors said they have interviewed more than 100 individuals in the case.

Opposition lawmakers have accused first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) of pocketing cash from a Presidential Office expense fund by seeking reimbursement for fake expenditures using receipts provided by a number of individuals.

The president was questioned at the Presidential Office on Aug. 7, and Wu was questioned at the official Yushan Residence on Aug. 20 about alleged irregularities in the use of the fund.

Prosecutors told a press conference after those interviews that Chen had said some of the receipts in question had been submitted by his wife, but he said that the reimbursements were for secret diplomatic expenses, and neither he nor his wife had ever pocketed any of the money.

During the first session of questioning, prosecutors told the president that the questioning might result in charges of fraud or corruption.

Eric Chen said yesterday that the investigation had been tough because it was difficult to verify the president's answers.

Because of the recent wave of anti-Chen Shui-bian protests, politicians from across the political spectrum, such as former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), have called on prosecutors to speed up the pace of their investigation.

Eric Chen, however, said yesterday that there was no set timetable for the investigation.

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