The Taiwan High Court yesterday ruled that the wife of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍), would have to serve 17-and-a-half years in prison in connection with separate corruption and bribery cases.
The court also said the former first lady would to be fined a -total of NT$154 million (US$5.05 million).
Wu and the former president were each sentenced on Nov. 11 to a total of 19 years in jail on two bribery charges involving a land deal in Longtan (龍潭), Taoyuan County, and the appointment of a chairwoman of the company that operates the Taipei 101 skyscraper.
The rulings were final convictions in the first of several corruption cases implicating the former first family.
In addition to the two cases, several corruption cases against the couple are still pending in the Taiwan High Court.
By law, the High Court can determine whether the combined 19-year sentence should be served concurrently or consecutively. A panel at the court ruled yesterday that Wu’s total prison time should be 17-and-a-half years.
Judicial officials have said that the wheelchair-bound Wu would be sent to the Taichung Prison hospital to serve her sentence, but if Wu’s health was to deteriorate to such an extent that the prison hospital was unable to handle it, she would be sent back home. However, her time at home would not be included as her prison term.
Wu is expected to start serving her sentence soon.
The couple’s daughter, Chen Hsing-yu (陳幸妤), has said that Wu’s health was precarious and that it was a problem every day just to feed, clothe and help her to the bathroom.
As the quality of care Wu would receive in prison was not clear, her mother should not be sent to jail, Chen Hsing-yu has said, adding that if anything happened to Wu during her incarceration, she would take legal action against the government.
The former president began serving his 17-and-a-half-year prison sentence at a jail in Taoyuan County on Dec. 3, making history as Taiwan’s first former head of state to be jailed.
Chen Shui-bian, who was president from 2000 until 2008, maintains that he is innocent and that his incarceration is a political vendetta by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-led government to punish him for his work on Taiwanese independence, as well as to please Beijing.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STAFF WRITER