Tue, Dec 30, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Chen appears in district court again

IN THE BALANCE Prosecutors said that they opposed the former president’s release because he was still in possession of alleged ill-gotten gains and may try to hide them

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Taipei District Court was the scene of intense exchanges yesterday between former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), his attorneys and prosecutors during a hearing to decide whether Chen would be detained ahead of his trial on corruption charges, but no decision had been made at press time.

Chen’s lawyers asked that the three judges not review an earlier decision made by a different panel of judges in the same court.

New Presiding Judge Tsai Shou-hsun (蔡守訓) was chosen to replace previous judge Chou Chan-chun (周占春), who had released Chen without bail, in a ballot by judges on Thursday night — a move that pan-green figures said was the result of political pressure.

Tsai asked Chen: “You do not admit to the prosecutors’ charges against you, is that correct?”

Chen said: “No,” adding, “I am innocent of the corruption prosecutors have charged me with, and I can’t accept such humiliation and the destruction of my dignity.”

Chen told Tsai: “You found [President] Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) not guilty in the misuse of his special allowance during his time as Taipei mayor, therefore I am also innocent and should not have been indicted for misuse of the state affairs fund.”

Prosecutor Chou Shih-yu (周士瑜) then detailed why prosecutors considered it necessary to keep Chen in custody.

“We seized documents from the Ministry of National Defense and National Security Bureau relating to cases against Chen, from his residence, that proved Chen has been working hard to collect information related to his case.

In addition, Chen was able to identify all 25 witnesses in the investigation. Prosecutors warned that the defendant could collude with other suspects and witnesses and hinder their investigation into several other alleged corruption cases involving Chen and his wife Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍),” Chou Shih-yu said.

Prosecutors added they opposed Chen’s release on bail because they had discovered he was still in possession of alleged ill-gotten funds, and if he were allowed to remain free may hide them.

The Taiwan High Court on Sunday ordered the Taipei District Court to reconsider its Dec. 18 decision confirming Chen’s release.

The High Court made the order following an appeal filed by the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office’s Special Investigation Panel (SIP) on Thursday against the Taiwan District Court’s decision confirming his release.

It was the second time the SIP had succeeded in having the Taiwan High Court call for a review of the Taipei District Court’s decision. The first was when the SIP filed an appeal with the High Court on Dec. 17, after which the latter ordered the district court to reconsider the release.

Chen was detained on Nov. 12 and indicted on Dec. 12 on charges of embezzling government funds, money laundering and forgery.

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