Sat, Sep 26, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Minister rejects Chen's alternative to detention

By Shelley Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Minister of Justice Wang Ching-feng (王清峰) yesterday said former president Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) request to wear an electronic tag as an alternative to detention does not have a legal basis.

In his detention hearing on Thursday at the Taiwan High Court, Chen offered several alternatives to detention, including confiscation of his passport, wearing an electronic tag to monitor his movements, house arrest or restricting him from accepting visits from certain people.

However, the three judges of the court of appeals ruled to keep the former president detained for another three months because they said the crimes in question were serious and, as a former president, he has more channels to flee the country than an ordinary citizen.

The judges also expressed concern about the large amount of money and other assets the former first family has overseas.

Wang also confirmed that the Judicial Yuan was mulling a proposed amendment to the Code of Criminal Procedure (刑事訴訟法) that would allow certain detainees to use electronic tags as an alternative to jail. However, even if the amendment passes, whether it would apply in Chen's case was “up to the judges,” she said.

Late on Thursday night, after hearing the judges' ruling to keep him behind bars, Chen fell back limply into his chair with a look of disappointment. He then closed his eyes and refused to talk or sign the necessary court documents after the hearing ended.

He was sent back to the Taipei Detention Center in an ambulance after medical staff reported that his blood pressure, heart rate, temperature and other physical conditions were normal.

On Sept. 11, the Taipei District Court found Chen Shui-bian, his wife and 11 codefendants guilty. The former first couple were sentenced to life in prison and fined NT$500 million (US$15.4 million).

CORRECTION

In yesterday’s issue, we reported that the Taiwan High Court judges in former president Chen Shui-bian’s trial voted 2-1 in favor of extending his detention (“High Court keeps Chen behind bars,” page 1). The court does not release such information. The Taipei Times regrets the error.


Asked for comment on Chen's case, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus deputy secretary-general Justin Chou (周守訓) said the caucus respected the court's decision.

“We hope that the opposition party will stop manipulating the issue of judicial human rights and sabotaging the judicial system,” Chou told a press conference.

Chen's continued detention renewed questions on whether the nation's judiciary has compromised Chen's human rights.

Democratic Progressive Party Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) expressed regrets over Chen's continued detention.

She said there was no longer a need for Chen to be detained because he had offered to have himself confined at home or wear a monitoring device.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY FLORA WANG AND AP

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