Tue, Dec 16, 2008 - Page 1 News List

SIP to appeal Chen Shui-bian’s release

CHANGE OF HEART In their appeal, prosecutors will argue that the former president could conspire with other individuals to undermine the investigation into his actions

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Special Investigation Panel (SIP) of the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office said yesterday it would appeal the release of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who was freed without bail on Saturday morning after being held for 32 days.

“We will appeal Chen’s case to the Taiwan High Court tomorrow [today],” SIP spokesman Chen Yun-nan (陳雲南) told reporters yesterday.

State public Prosecutor-General Chen Tsung-ming (陳聰明) and the eight SIP prosecutors investigating the former president’s finances met yesterday morning to reach a decision on whether to appeal.

Chen Yun-nan had said on Saturday that the SIP respected the Taipei District Court’s decision to release the former president and would not appeal, but admitted on Sunday he had spoken without consulting the other prosecutors.

Chen Tsung-ming told reporters on Sunday it was normal for a defendant to be released by a district court after an investigation was complete and the case was to be brought to court.

However, in Chen Shui-bian’s case, prosecutors said they were still probing other allegations involving the former first family and the release of the former president could allow him to discuss the investigations with other individuals.

In their appeal of the release, prosecutors will argue that Chen Shui-bian could conspire with other individuals involved in the case, Chen Yun-nan said.

The high court can reject the request or order the district court to reconsider its decision.

Commenting on the prosecutors’ decision to appeal, DPP caucus whip William Lai (賴清德) said it was surprising that the SIP had changed its mind.

“The SIP should explain to the public whether or not politics were involved,” he said.

Chen Shui-bian, who was detained on Nov. 12, was indicted on charges of embezzling government funds, money laundering and forgery along with 13 others, including his wife, son and daughter-in-law.

As prosecutors are seeking the “severest penalty,” legal experts say the former president could face life in prison if convicted.

Chen Shui-bian has repeatedly denied all the charges against him, saying he is the victim of political persecution.

Prosecutors charged him and his wife, Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍), with illegally receiving or embezzling NT$490 million (US$14.7 million), some of which was sent overseas.

Of that total, the indictment says, NT$104.15 million was embezzled from the “state affairs” fund during the former president’s eight years in office.

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