Thu, Dec 18, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Chen promises not to flee, but court backs SIP

By Jimmy Chuang and Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTERS, WITH AGENCIES

Former president Chen Shui-bian arrives at Taiwan High Court in Taipei yesterday for a hearing in a case involving him and Minister of National Defense Chen Chao-min. The Taiwan High Court last night granted the Special Investigation Panel’s appeal against Chen Shui-bian’s release on bail.

PHOTO: MAURICE TSAI, BLOOMBERG NEWS

Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) vowed yesterday that he would not flee the country as he fights attempts by the Supreme Prosecutor Office’s Special Investigation Panel (SIP) to return him to custody amid corruption charges.

The Taiwan High Court announced at 7pm yesterday that it was granting the appeal, which means the Taipei District Court will re-hear the case to decide whether Chen should be detained.

“I will not run away because I deeply love this land and the people here. Otherwise, I would not have asked my daughter-in-law to return from the United States to give birth to her baby two years ago,” Chen told reporters.

“Nor would I have asked my son to return in August from the United States for the investigation,” he said.

“I shall appear in court to defend my innocence,” he said.

Chen made the remarks at the Taiwan High Court, where he attend a hearing yesterday afternoon in a case involving him and Minister of National Defense Chen Chao-min (陳肇敏).

Chen Shui-bian was indicted last Friday on charges of embezzling government funds, taking bribes and money laundering. He was released without bail last Friday after being detained for 32 days as prosecutors prepared four cases against him. The SIP filed an appeal on Tuesday against the Taipei District Court’s decision to release him, contending he might abscond through “secret channels.”

In its appeal, the SIP said it was incorrect of the judge to claim that the former president’s activities would be monitored by the bodyguards assigned to protect him, because he could always instruct them not to follow him. The SIP cited cases from Ukraine, Peru and Thailand in which corrupt heads of state fled their countries to go into hiding abroad.

Chen Shui-bian’s lawyer has said the appeal was politically motivated — an accusation rejected by Minister of Justice Wang Ching-feng (王清峰).

Meanwhile, the Presidential Office denied President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) had in February discussed the possibility of pardoning his predecessor if Chen was found guilty in the corruption cases, an allegation made by the Chinese-language Next Magazine.

Tsai Chung-li (蔡仲禮), director of the Presidential Office’s public affairs department, said it would have been impossible for Ma to discuss the issue in February because he was only a presidential candidate then

“The allegations are groundless, untrue and unbelievable,” Tsai said.

A Next story claims Ma met aides, including former Taipei deputy mayor King Pu-tsung (金溥聰), in February to discuss whether Chen should be granted a pardon if he was found guilty and that the meeting concluded that a decision should not be made unless Chen were convicted.

Tsai said the Presidential Office had not discussed a pardon.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MO YAN-CHIH

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