The Supreme Court yesterday sentenced former first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) to nine months in prison for instigating perjury in a case related to former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) state affairs fund.
The couple’s son, Chen Chih-chung (陳致中), daughter, Chen Hsing-yu (陳幸妤), and son-in-law, Chao Chien-ming (趙建銘), each received three months for perjury.
Wu was sentenced to nine months for being the mastermind behind her children and Chao for giving false testimony regarding the use of some of her husband’s state affairs funds during his two terms as president.
The court found that Wu instructed Chen Hsing-yu and Chen Chih-chung to tell the court that they had obtained invoices when buying gifts for other people on behalf of their parents or taking care of guests on behalf of their father. Chao was also told to do the same, it said, adding that the invoices were then used to claim reimbursement from the state affairs funds.
However, Wu is unlikely to serve time given her poor health. She was paralyzed from the waist down after being run over in November 1985 and is confined to a wheelchair.
On Feb. 18, she was released from a prison hospital after Taichung Prison declined to admit her to serve the 19-year jail sentence that the Supreme Court gave her along with Chen Shui-bian in November last year. The longer sentences were handed down after they were found guilty on two charges of bribery involving a land deal in Longtan (龍潭), Taoyuan County, and influence peddling in the appointment of Diana Chen (陳敏薰) as the chairperson of the Taipei Financial Center Corp (台北金融大樓公司), which operates the Taipei 101 skyscraper.
In yesterday’s ruling, Chen -Hsing-yu was given a two-year delay in the implementation of her sentence because her husband, Chao Chien-ming, was also given a three-month term and they have to take care of their young children.
Chen Chih-chung and Chao could apply to do community service instead of going to jail, the ruling said.
The Supreme Court said the original sentences for Wu (18 months), Chen Chih-chung, Chen Hsing-yu and Chao (six months each) were halved as the result of the Sentence Commutation statute (罪犯減刑條例) enacted in 2007 when Chen Shui-bian was president, which halved the sentences of thousands of convicts.
In yesterday’s ruling, the Supreme Court ordered the Taiwan High Court to re-hear the part concerning Diana Chen, who in the first trial was given eight months for perjury.
Later yesterday, the Ministry of the Interior, citing the Local Government Act (地方制度法), said in a statement that Chen Chih-chung would be deprived of his status as a Greater Kaohsiung councilor by the Executive Yuan after it receives a copy of the verdict.
There would be no need for a by-election to fill the vacancy as the Local Government Act stipulates that a vacancy left by a special municipality councilor does not need to be filled if the number of the vacancies is less than 50 percent of the total number of city councilors in the city.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY LOA IOK-SIN AND CNA