Fri, Jul 10, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Chen refuses to testify against ex-bookkeeper

TRIAL Although the former president said he would not testify against Chen Chen-hui, the judge told him that he could only decline to answer certain questions

By Shelley Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday refused to testify against his co-defendant Chen Chen-hui (陳鎮慧), his former bookkeeper, who is accused of helping the former president embezzle money.

Chen Shui-bian said his court-appointed attorneys told him he could refuse to testify in Chen Chen-hui’s trial because he harbored mixed feelings toward his former bookkeeper.

However, Presiding Judge Tsai Shou-hsun (蔡守訓) of the Taipei District Court told the former president that while he could refuse to answer certain questions, he could not refuse to testify entirely.

After Tsai ordered a recess in which Chen Shui-bian conferred with his attorneys, the former president told the court he would be willing to testify out of respect for the court.

REWARDS

Meanwhile, former premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) yesterday testified that he “should have” received a monetary performance reward from Chen Shui-bian.

Tsai had scheduled yesterday’s hearing to question Chang on whether he received NT$2 million (US$60,700) from the former president.

The purpose of the hearing was to determine the authenticity of some of the expense reports related to the presidential “state affairs fund,” a government fund earmarked for official purposes to be used at the president’s discretion.

Prosecutors previously argued that Chang and former vice premier Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭) had not received money they had been promised by Chen Shui-bian, implying that the former president lied about rewarding government officials with bonuses when in fact he took the cash reimbursements from the government fund for his personal use.

The former president is charged with embezzling NT$104.15 million in government funds.

MEMORY PROBLEMS

In witness statements Chang made to Special Investigation Panel (SIP) prosecutors, the former premier said he could not recall whether Chen Shui-bian had given him a NT$2 million reward.

However, after a few days, Chang said in a written statement to the SIP that he had indeed received monetary rewards from the former president.

In court yesterday, prosecutors probed Chang about the discrepancy.

He answered that because his memory was poor, he could not recall the reward when questioned by prosecutors. However, after he gave the matter more thought, Chang said, he remembered that he “should have” received money from Chen Shui-bian because he performed very well during his two terms as premier.

However, Chang said he could not provide further details, such as when and where he should have received the money, citing poor memory.

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