Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was found not guilty by the Taiwan High Court yesterday of directing his aides to give false testimony to prosecutors who were probing his alleged misuse of a special state affairs fund.
The High Court ruling overturned one handed down by the Taipei District Court in July last year, in which Chen was sentenced to two months in jail on charges of urging Ma Yung-cheng (馬永成) and Lin Teh-hsun (林德訓) — who headed Chen’s office at different times during his two terms as president from 2000 to 2008 — to make untrue statements.
The district court ruled that Chen had asked the pair to tell prosecutors that the state affairs fund was used for secret diplomatic operations rather than being pocketed by the first family.
Also, Chen had wanted them to say that his wife, Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍), had never used invoices provided by other people to pocket cash from the fund, according to the district court ruling.
Lin was handed a two-month sentence by the Supreme Court in November last year for perjury — Ma was not indicted in the case.
However, the High Court found that before Lin gave his testimony on Aug. 8, 2006, the prosecutors had not informed him that he had the right to refuse to testify.
Under these circumstances, Lin’s actions did not constitute perjury, even if he had lied to prosecutors that day, the High Court said.
Moreover, there was no evidence proving that Chen had instructed Lin and Ma to give false testimony, the court said.
Chen is currently serving a 17-and-a-half-year sentence for taking bribes in a land development project and for influencing the appointment of a chairwoman at the Taipei 101 tower.
In August last year, the High Court ruled that Chen was not guilty of embezzling state affairs funds, although he was given an extra 10-month prison term for his role in using fraudulent receipts to pocket reimbursements for expenditure from the special fund. The prosecution is currently appealing the verdict.