Fri, Feb 27, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Court considers releasing Chen

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was escorted back to the Taipei Detention House yesterday after an impromptu hearing on whether to continue his detention failed to reach a conclusion.

The court had been scheduled to complete the final day of a three-day hearing as part of preparations for Chen’s trial on charges of money-laundering and corruption.

But following Wednesday’s marathon session, which the former president’s lawyers devoted to reviewing witness statements, Chen arrived at court yesterday looking tired and disheveled.

He told judges the hearings were too long and that he was exhausted.

The morning session lasted 55 minutes before Presiding Judge Tsai Shou-hsun (蔡守訓) ordered a four-hour recess. Chen was escorted to the Taipei District Court’s waiting room.

Upon resumption of the hearing, Chen’s lawyers told the court that their client had not eaten, drunk or slept during the break.

An unplanned detention hearing then began at 4pm out of concern for Chen’s health.

“Considering the defendant’s health, we will stop hearing the case and discuss whether his detention should be continued,” Tsai told the court.

Chen’s lawyers said Chen needed to be at home to take care of his wife.

“Former first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) lives alone except for her nurses,” Cheng Wen-lung (鄭文龍) said as Chen wept.

Cheng said most defendants in the case had already admitted to crimes and nearly all witness interviews were complete, so there should be no concern of collusion.

Also, as a former president with 24-hour security, it would be impossible for him to abscond.

“I would never abandon my wife,” Chen said.

Prosecutors asked judges not to release him, saying that Chen could manipulate the press and judiciary even from behind bars.

At 6:15pm, Tsai ended the hearing although judges had not reached a decision, and ordered that Chen remain in detention until a decision is made when the hearing resumes on Wednesday.

He also scheduled hearings for March 10, March 11 and March 18.

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