Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday maintained his innocence during the first of three pre-trial hearings on charges of corruption and money laundering.
“I am totally innocent and there is absolutely no way I would accept such charges and insults,” Chen said.
The three-day pre-trial session at the Taipei District Court set the stage for the trial, which is expected to last for months.
PHOTO: LIAO CHEN-HUEI, TAIPEI TIMES
The district court will summon other defendants, including Chen’s son and daughter-in-law, for pre-trial hearings today and tomorrow.
During the hearing, prosecutors charged Chen, who stands accused of four counts of corruption and money laundering, with additional charges of “extorting property and demanding donations using influence” and “profiteering” in a land procurement deal in Lungtan, Taoyuan County, in 2004.
The prosecutors said Chen used his influence as president to push the government to buy the land for a science park after his wife, Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍), accepted bribes from the landowner.
Chen and Wu were indicted last month for accepting an estimated NT$300 million (US$8.9 million) in bribes in connection with the deal.
Chen said yesterday the addition of two charges reflected the fact that he was not guilty.
“Why did they need to add these two charges? It is because they know that the initial charges were too weak to convict me,” Chen said. “For the Lungtan case, I was actually trying to help boost the nation’s economy. How can that be called corruption?”
“No [other defendants] have ever named me as bribe recipient and I don’t know why I was charged with taking bribes,” he told the court.
The session, heard by Presiding Judge Tsai Shou-hsun (蔡守訓) and judges Hsu Chien-hui (徐千惠) and Wu Ding-ya (吳定亞), began at 9:30am.
Chen’s defense team — Cheng Wen-lung (鄭文龍), Hung Kuei-san and Shih Yi-ling (石宜琳) — yesterday said they had not been given sufficient time to prepare Chen’s defense.
Tsai later postponed the remaining part of yesterday’s hearing and a hearing scheduled for tomorrow to Feb. 24.
Chen, 58, was president from 2000 until May 2008. He has said he is a victim of political persecution by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
Also charged in the same case are three of Chen’s former aides and eight other associates and relatives.
Malaysian authorities have advised women to wear makeup, not to nag their husbands and speak with a cartoon character’s soothing voice during the virus lockdown, sparking a flood of mockery online. Like many countries, Malaysia has ordered all citizens to stay at home to stem the spread of COVID-19, which, as of yesterday, had killed at least 39,070 people globally. In a series of online posters with the hashtag #WomenPreventCOVID19, the Malaysian Ministry of Women and Family Development issued advice on how to avoid domestic conflicts during the partial lockdown, which began on March 18. One of the campaign posters depicted
KEEP AWAY: People should wear a mask in places where they cannot follow social distancing rules, the CECC said, adding that it would publish detailed guidelines today The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday announced 16 new cases of COVID-19, including two domestic cases, as it urged people to practice social distancing in public spaces by keeping a distance of at least 1m when outdoors and 1.5m indoors. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that seven of the new cases tested positive upon their arrival at the airport, four were under home quarantine, one was under home isolation and two were under self-health management, while the two domestic cases sought treatment on their own. The domestic cases are a man in his
Taiwan will negotiate with the WHO about its participation without Beijing’s help and intervention as more countries, including Australia and Japan, are partnering with Taiwan to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a telephonic roundtable with reporters on Monday also supported Taiwan’s role in the WHO, saying the US Department of State would do its best to assist Taiwan’s “appropriate role” in the world’s highest health policy setting body, Voice of America reported. In a Japan Business Press report published on Sunday, Chinese Ambassador to Japan Kong Xuanyou (孔鉉佑) said
Japan’s ruling party yesterday proposed the nation’s biggest-ever stimulus package of ￥60 trillion (US$554 billion) as the COVID-19 pandemic locks the economy in a recession. The sum includes ￥20 trillion in fiscal measures with private initiatives and other elements likely making up the rest, the proposal by the Liberal Democratic Party showed. More than ￥10 trillion, or the equivalent of a 5 percentage point cut in the sales tax rate, would be handed out to the public in a combination of cash, subsidies and coupons, the plan showed. The proposal puts an initial figure on a stimulus package that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo