Mon, Aug 25, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Chen Chih-chung, wife return home to face probe

ID CARD AT HAND The former president’s son felt that pressure may have been applied on the University of Virginia, which said he had not completed enrollment

By Meggie Lu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) son Chen Chih-chung (陳致中) and daughter-in-law Huang Jui-ching (黃睿靚) made their first public appearance yesterday since being named defendants in an investigation into alleged money laundering by the former first family when the couple boarded an EVA Airways flight at New Jersey’s Newark International Airport bound for Taiwan.

EVA Flight BR031 is scheduled to arrive in Taiwan at 5:30am today.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Chen Chih-chung proclaimed his innocence and said that he and his wife were only figureheads, while rebutting accusations that he was directly involved in handling the money.

“We are purely figureheads in this [money wiring] case. Things were done in our name, but we are not clear on everything else [pertaining to the investigation],” he said. “We will go back [to Taiwan] and cooperate with the investigation.”

“I didn’t know about [having been used as a figurehead] until I arrived in the US and heard about it from the media,” Huang said. “Being named a defendant is a little over the top.”

Turning to their “disappearance,” the couple said that since Chen Chih-chung had initially intended to pursue a doctorate in law at the University of Virginia this fall, they had had to pack, cancel their rental car and end their apartment lease before returning

Chen Chih-chung’s return would be in time for a summons issued for him and his wife last week.

On Friday, Chu Chao-liang (朱朝亮), a spokesperson for the Supreme Prosecutor Office’s Special Investigation Panel, confirmed that prosecutors had issued a second summons ordering the couple in for questioning, adding that although it was the second summons, it was the first time the couple had been named defendants in the case.

Reacting to news of the couple’s return, Chu said the panel was glad they had decided to come back, adding that they would be asked to appear as defendants on Friday.

The couple would not be summoned at an earlier date, unless they requested it themselves, Chu said.

Chen Chih-chung said yesterday that the University of Virginia had been mistaken when it said he did not have a student ID, producing a University of Virginia student ID with his photograph and name from his wallet.

“I was at the student orientation activity for international students on [Aug. 11]; where I received my student ID and paid my tuition … The university said I did not have a student ID. This is inaccurate, because I do,” he said.

Last Monday, “I phoned the school to discuss what to do next, but they told me that if I wanted to attend school I would have to reapply next year,” he said.

Asked if the couple thought that the university was acting under pressure, Huang said: “The school had a drastic change in attitude … We felt that something was weird. We were quite surprised.”

Chen Chih-chung was speaking in response to comments by a public relations official from the school last week, who claimed that Chen Chih-chung had called last Monday to excuse himself from compulsory orientation, adding that his failure to show up had resulted in his losing his place in class.

As Chen Chih-chung did not complete the enrollment process, he failed to obtain a student ID, the spokesperson said.

The school denied that Taiwanese media had pressured it or suggested that Chen Chih-chung should not be allowed into the program.

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