The Taiwan High Court yesterday extended former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) detention by two months on the grounds that he may flee the country if released.
The ruling dashed his family’s hopes that Chen, whose current detention order expires on Wednesday, would be released following their request to Swiss banking authorities that money be sent to a bank account designated by the Special Investigation Panel (SIP) of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office. Taiwan High Court judge Teng Chen-chiu (鄧振球) has previously said the move could enhance the chances of the former president being released.
On Thursday, the SIP said that another US$1 million in funds stashed by the ex-first family in banks in Switzerland had been wired to Taiwan. The latest remittance brought to US$13.51 million the amount Chen’s family had wired from Switzerland to Taiwan, with a further US$7 million left in two Swiss bank accounts.
Teng yesterday said that so far the court could only confirm the remittance of US$13 million to Taiwan.
He added Chen might flee the country if he were released, saying that Chen, as a former president, has better foreign connections than most people, and with the foreign assets he might take charge of, it was considered a risk to release Chen.
Chen and his wife, Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍), were accused of embezzling public funds, forgery and money laundering during Chen’s terms as president.
Chen was first detained at the Taipei Detention Center in Tucheng (土城) on Nov. 12, 2008, and released on Dec. 13, 2008, following his indictment.
He was detained again on Dec. 30, 2008, after the Taipei District Court approved a request by prosecutors to take him back into custody. He has remained in detention since.
On Friday last week, Chen and Wu had life sentences reduced to 20 years in prison after the Taiwan High Court handed down the verdict for the second trial.
Fines for Chen and Wu were also reduced to NT$170 million and NT$200 million from the earlier NT$200 million and NT$300 million, respectively. Chen maintains his innocence and said he will appeal the case to the Supreme Court.
Additional reporting by CNA