Thu, Jul 30, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Chen’s former aides defend their actions in closing remarks

By Shelley Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former aides to former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday denied any wrongdoing in connection with the presidential “state affairs fund” at the last session of their trial before the verdict is announced in September.

Presiding Judge Tsai Shou-hsun (蔡守訓) scheduled yesterday’s court date to hear closing arguments from former Presidential Office director Lin Teh-hsun (林德訓), former Presidential Office deputy secretary-general Ma Yung-cheng (馬永成), their attorneys and the prosecution.

The two former aides stand accused of helping Chen embezzle money from the fund while he was in office.

Prosecutors said Ma and Lin exploited the fact that they were trusted by the former president and the Presidential Office’s accounting department.

They were fully aware they were helping the former president embezzle funds using various tricks, prosecutors said, including approving reimbursements of the former first family’s personal expenses with inappropriate receipts and making false lists of government employees to receive monetary rewards.

In reality, the cash went into the Chen family’s pockets, prosecutors said.

The two aides and their lawyers said they were unaware that the presidential fund was being used for inappropriate purposes, adding that the reimbursement system was flawed.

Prosecutors said the former aides and Chen had clearly been aware that they were committing crimes because otherwise they would not have destroyed documents to cover their actions.

Prosecutors accused Ma and Lin of flouting the law and having “only Chen’s interests in mind.”

Earlier, the former president said during his last day at trial on Tuesday that the accusations against him were “unbearably heavy.”

Having stayed silent throughout most of the day on Tuesday to protest what he calls an unfair judicial system, the former president finally began to speak at about 10pm.

He said that the public had been witness to his historical trial and that even if he were convicted: “I want to make my mark on history and let everyone know how I died.”

Chen said the entire trial — including the switching of judges and his being detained since December — had been unfair and politically motivated.

In December last year, a panel of judges ordered that the presiding judge in Chen’s case, Chou Chan-chun (周占春), be replaced by Tsai, who would preside over all of Chen’s cases, which were merged.

The switch was controversial, with some claiming it was politically motivated and had violated judicial procedures.

Chen said he recognized that his family’s way of “handling money” had not met the highest moral standards and political expectations, and apologized to the public.

The former president said he was willing to wire back all the money sent to overseas accounts and donate it to charity.

The last day of Chen’s first trial ended at about 1:30am yesterday.

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