Wed, Nov 12, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Chen Shui-bian chained

HANDCUFFED Prosecutors requested that the former president be remanded in custody, saying he might tamper with evidence in the bribery case against him

By Jimmy Chuang, Ko Shu-ling, Flora Wang and Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTERS, WITH AGENCIES

Former president Chen Shui-bian displays handcuffs and shouts slogans before getting into a police car in Taipei yesterday. After questioning Chen for seven hours, prosecutors with the Supreme Prosecutors Office’s Special Investigation Panel applied to have him remanded in custody with no visitation rights.

PHOTO: WANG MING-WEI, TAIPEI TIMES

A handcuffed former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was taken to the Taipei District Court in police custody yesterday as prosecutors sought his detention in connection with alleged embezzlement from the presidential “state affairs” fund and claims of money laundering by the former first family.

The detention hearing was ongoing at press time. If the request were granted, Chen would be the first former president in Taiwan’s history to be detained.

Chen raised his cuffed hands into the air as he was escorted into a waiting car, shouting “Political persecution, judicial persecution” and “Taiwan, jiayou!”

Chen Shui-bian said last night he had been struck by a bailiff and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) requested that he be taken to hospital for a check-up.

“We have asked that the suspect be detained on concerns that if freed, he might tamper with evidence concerning his role in the alleged case of embezzlement and bribe taking,” said prosecutor Chen Yun-nan (陳雲南), spokesman for the Supreme Prosecutors Office’s Special Investigation Panel (SIP).

Prosecutors made the detention request after questioning Chen for seven hours over his alleged embezzlement of NT$14.8 million (US$450,500) in secret diplomatic funds during his eight-year tenure. His wife, Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍), has been charged and is being tried.

They said the former president was also suspected of accepting bribes from local businessmen and laundering at least US$21 million in funds abroad.

Chen Shui-bian has said that while his wife wired the funds abroad without his knowledge, the money was what had remained from previous election campaign donations.

Chen Yun-nan said prosecutors had collected enough evidence to bring corruption charges against the former president.

As the crimes Chen Shui-bian is suspected of could lead to a prison sentence of more than five years, prosecutors decided to file a detention request, he said.

Chen Yun-nan said that the questioning had been conducted by prosecutors Lin Cher-hui and Lee Hai-lung (李海龍) and began at 9:30am.

Chen Shui-bian was cooperative at first, answering all their questions, but stopped cooperating when Lin and Lee began to ask more sensitive questions, Chen Yun-nan said.

Outside the court in a light drizzle, a dozen of the former president’s supporters shouting “injustice” and “political persecution” were kept at bay with barbed wire barricades, while several of his opponents on the other side of the barricades clapped their hands, shouting “long live the Taiwanese judiciary.”

Elsewhere in Taiwan, some of Chen Shui-bian’s opponents lit firecrackers to show their delight over his possible detention.

He had arrived at the SIP office yesterday morning around 9am. With traffic controls in force and nearly 3,000 police officers standing by, Chen Shui-bian left his office, which is located opposite the SIP offices. He stopped outside the entrance of the SIP offices for a short press conference.

“I am going to Taiwan’s Bastille. They can imprison me physically, but they cannot control my mind,” he said.

“The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party see me as their No. 1 prisoner, as I am the biggest obstacle blocking their way to reunification,” he told reporters.

He accused his successor, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), of pursuing a political agenda and punishing him for demonstrations during a visit by China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) last week.

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