Prosecutors may file appeal for longer prison term for former president's son

By Shelley Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Wed, Sep 16, 2009 - Page 3

Prosecutors in charge of former president Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) corruption cases said yesterday they were considering filing an appeal as they believed his son should have received a heavier sentence.

Taipei District prosecutors and the Supreme Prosecutors' Office's Special Investigative Panel (SIP), who prosecuted the former president and more than a dozen other co-defendants, said they might request a longer prison sentence for Chen Chih-chung (陳致中).

In the ruling, Presiding Judge Tsai Shou-hsun (蔡守訓) and other judges wrote that Chen Chih-chung and his wife, Huang Jui-ching (黃睿靚), displayed “arrogance” during parts of the investigation, but later admitted their crimes and showed remorse toward the end of the trial.

The ruling states that compared with his wife, Chen Chih-chung's involvement in the former first family's money-laundering activities was “deeper and broader,” while his wife was found to have less involvement by only providing her name and bank accounts to be used in the process.

Chen Chih-chung and Huang were each fined NT$150 million (US$4.5 million), but Chen Chih-chung was sentenced to two years and six months, while his wife received one year and eight months. In addition, Huang was given the option to pay NT$200 million to the national treasury if she chooses probation in lieu of serving time.

Prosecutors said they were reviewing whether Chen Chih-chung's sentence was disproportionate to his involvement in the crimes, because Chen Chih-chung's high level of education cast doubt on his argument that he was unaware the funds he was told to transfer came from illegal sources.

Prosecutors also pointed to the ruling, which states that his “bank accounts contained illegal funds amounting to more than 2,000 times the nation's average income per capita per year,” as a factor in considering his sentence.

On Monday, prosecutors said they might appeal Huang's sentence based on the principle of proportionality.

They said it was unfair that if Huang wanted to avoid jail, she would have to pay 67 times more than Tsai Ming-che (蔡銘哲), another co-defendant in the case, when it was clear that Tsai was heavily involved in the case while Huang was only slightly involved.

On Friday, the district court handed down guilty verdicts to Chen Shui-bian, his wife Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) and 11 other co-defendants. The former first couple, convicted for corruption, embezzlement, forgery, money laundering and other charges, received life sentences and was fined NT$500 million.