Sat, Apr 04, 2009 - Page 3 News List

MOJ rejects request to interview former president

AFP , TAIPEI

Authorities said yesterday they had turned down a Japanese newspaper’s request to interview former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) at the detention center where he is being held on graft charges.

Japan’s biggest newspaper, the Asahi Shimbun, was denied the interview because it wanted to ask Chen about his ongoing corruption case, the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) said.

“Although former president Chen has been detained, he frequently voices his opinions through his lawyers or his office ... this [decision] will not prevent him from expressing his views,” it said in a statement.

The detention center clamped down on visits to Chen after he proclaimed his innocence in an unauthorized interview with the Chinese-language Financial Times newspaper in February.

Chen’s office must now obtain advance permission for media interviews, as well as provide the center with details of anyone else who wants to visit.

Chen has been in detention since December and was in court earlier this week for the first of several cases he says have been orchestrated by a vindictive government angered by his anti-China views.

Chen has been accused of embezzlement, money laundering, taking bribes and other charges.

Some legal experts have expressed concerns about the handling of the case, including the decision to detain him and to change the presiding judge.

Chen has twice gone on hunger strike in protest against the proceedings.

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