Wed, Jan 21, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Chen's former top aides plead not guilty in court

AFP, WITH STAFF WRITER

Former Presidential Office deputy secretary-general Ma Yung-cheng declines to comment as he leaves the Taipei District Court yesterday after facing three hours of questioning as a defendant in the “state affairs fund” case.

PHOTO: CNA

The two top aides of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday pleaded not guilty in an embezzlement case that implicated the former leader and his family.

Former Presidential Office deputy secretary-general Ma Yung-cheng (馬永成) and the former director of Chen’s office, Lin Teh-hsun (林德訓), appeared separately before a court in Taipei yesterday, one day after Chen claimed his own innocence at his pre-trial hearing on corruption charges.

ACCOMPLICES?

The duo were accused of assisting the Chen family in embezzling NT$104 million (US$3.15 million) in government funds set aside for Chen’s official discretionary use while Chen was in office.

Ma yesterday said he had not pocketed any public money and that he only did his job in following the president’s orders to take care of the money for diplomatic work, which Chen had alleged embezzled.

Lin also defended himself by saying he had merely followed Chen’s orders.

The two men were among 14 people, including Chen, his wife, son and daughter-in-law, indicted last month on corruption, money laundering, embezzlement and document forgery charges.

MONEY TRANSFER

Chen has admitted that his wife transferred US$20 million abroad, but said that the money was from past campaign funds and that she had wired it without his knowledge.

Presiding Judge Tsai Shou-hsun (蔡守訓) yesterday scheduled Ma’s next hearing for Feb. 17.

Meanwhile, Lee Sheng-hsiung (李勝雄), the lawyer of former first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍), said Wu would try her best to appear in court after the Lunar New Year holidays. Wu has missed court hearing since falling ill during the court’s first session on Dec. 15, 2006.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JIMMY CHUANG

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