Fri, May 08, 2009 - Page 1 News List

'Let's end this circus': Chen Shui-bian

'ILLEGAL TRIAL' The former president's office issued a statement yesterday in which Chen requested that Judge Tsai Shou-hsun hand him a life prison sentence

By Shelley Huang and Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTERS

A supporter of former president Chen Shui-bian cries outside the Taipei District Court after the judge sent Chen back to the Taipei Detention Center in Tucheng, Taipei County, yesterday.

PHOTO: CHANG CHIA-MING, TAIPEI TIMES

Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who has been detained at the Taipei Detention Center since Dec. 30 on charges of money laundering and corruption, yesterday released a statement requesting that Presiding Judge Tsai Shou-hsun (蔡守訓) give him a life sentence.

“I will not appeal and my sentence can begin immediately,” Chen’s statement said. “Let’s end this circus.”

Chen’s office issued the statement late yesterday afternoon, which said the former president “rejected the illegal detention, illegal indictment and the illegal trial,” adding that he would immediately dismiss his defense lawyers and revoke the summons of all defense witnesses.

The statement also said he would go on a hunger strike until May 17 to show his support for a demonstration planned by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

The statement said he would refuse food until he saw his fellow Taiwanese come together in front of the Presidential Office on May 17 to protest against President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and demand that he protect the nation.

He said as a former president, he stands for Taiwan independence and believes Taiwan and China are separate countries.

“I vow on my life I will never be a slave of China,” he said. “Taiwanese must maintain their dignity and backbone.”

The statement said that Chen did not embezzle any money or commit any crime. He vowed he would never submit to judicial persecution and the political vendetta being waged by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and “administrator Ma.”

Earlier yesterday morning, Chen showed shortness of breath and shook when he appeared in court for his detention hearing.

The hearing yesterday was to decide whether to keep Chen incarcerated. The prosecution requested the court keep the former president detained and cited fears that Chen might collude with witnesses or try to abscond, adding that the charges against him were serious crimes for which a defendant may be sentenced to five or more years in prison.

“As a former president, the defendant [Chen] may have more contacts and a higher ability to abscond than the average person,” prosecutor Lin Yi-chun (林怡君) said.

Because the former first family has wired large amounts of money to offshore accounts, they may try to flee the country and “live luxuriously” overseas, prosecutors said.

“[Chen] being invited back into the Democratic Progressive Party despite his indictment shows that he is a very influential figure,” Lin said.

Prosecutors reasoned that Chen may use his influence to attempt to destroy or tamper with evidence related to the case.

In response, Chen spoke in short breaths and occasionally heaved and coughed.

Chen quoted Special Investigation Panel prosecutors who had said at previous detention hearings that he may be released once they have finished calling all witnesses.

“Although the court has not finished calling the witnesses, the other defendants and key witnesses have all been questioned,” Chen said.

Chou Chan-chun (周占春), the judge who previously presided over Chen’s case, had said that if Chen was to be detained until the court has finished questioning all witnesses, it would infringe on the defendant’s litigation and defense rights, Chen said.

Chen said if he was released, he would not harass or collude with other defendants and witnesses because he knows if he did, he would be detained again.

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