Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and his wife were urged yesterday to “stop lying” about the corruption charges they face after three of their relatives admitted to money laundering.
Chen’s son Chen Chih-chung (陳致中), his daughter-in-law Huang Jui-ching (黃睿靚) and his brother-in-law Wu Chin-mao all said that they might have been involved in money laundering on Wednesday, in the latest development in a case that has gripped the nation since Chen himself was arrested in November.
Chen Chih-chung and Huang also apologized and vowed to further cooperate with prosecutors, who have said they will summon the couple soon to help with their inquiries.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chiu Yi-ying (邱議瑩) urged the party’s former leader and his wife to “learn something” from their son and daughter-in-law.
“Stop lying. It’s time to honestly face justice,” she said.
“I hope that all the criticism of [Chen Chih-chung and Huang] will now stop. Let justice do its job,’ Chiu said.
Other DPP lawmakers urged the public to give the couple a second chance now that they have admitted their guilt.
DPP Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said that it took courage to admit mistakes.
“They are still young. Now that they have admitted and expressed regret for what they did, I think they deserve a second chance,” Tsai said.
However, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lee Ching-hua (李慶華) called the couple’s confession a “show.”
“They were insincere and obviously forced [to plead guilty],” Lee said, adding that the couple was afraid of being detained by prosecutors and jailed.
Chen Chih-chung and Huang Jui-ching, who had previously promised prosecutors they would send US$21 million back to Taiwan from their Swiss bank accounts, said they would repatriate another US$17 million from abroad.
They also agreed to tell prosecutors the whereabouts of cash and jewelry worth around NT$600 million (US$17.88 million) that was being kept by the former first lady.
Wednesday’s twist was a blow to members of the party the former president once led.
“It is especially embarrassing to [his] supporters,” former DPP legislator Lin Cho-shui (林濁水) said.
On Monday, Chen Shui-bian insisted that he was innocent of taking bribes, as he appeared in court for a pre-trial hearing on charges he says are politically motivated.
Chen Shui-bian, who left office in May after eight years as president, has been charged with embezzlement, taking bribes and money laundering, influence peddling and blackmail and faces life in prison if convicted on all counts.
While some Taiwanese saw the move by Chen Chih-chung as an attempt to break ranks with his father, others interpreted it as just part of the family’s defense strategy aimed at reducing any eventual punishment.
The former leader has previously admitted that his wife transferred US$20 million abroad, but said the money was from past campaign funds and she had done so without his knowledge.
Meanwhile, the former first family’s physician Huang Fang-yen (黃芳彥) yesterday failed to show up in response to a summons from the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office’s Special Investigation Panels (SIP).
“We will deal with his absence according to the law,” said SIP Spokesman Chen Yun-nan (陳雲南).
Chen Yun-nan refused to say if prosecutors planned to list Huang as a defendant.
“Prosecutors need sufficient evidence to prove a person’s alleged crimes before they list them as a defendant,” he said.