The Taiwan High Court yesterday rescinded previous rulings and found former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and former first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) not guilty of corruption, in a retrial of their state affairs fund case.
However, it upheld Chen’s previous conviction for his role in the use of fraudulent receipts to obtain reimbursement for spending from the state affairs fund. On that charge, Chen was given an additional 20-month prison sentence that was cut to 10 months in accordance with a commutation statute.
The court also upheld Chen’s conviction for his role in a money laundering case that concerned a land deal in Taoyuan County’s Longtan (龍潭) and sentenced him to another two years in prison.
The new ruling leaves Chen, who is serving a 17.5-year sentence on corruption charges, with an additional two years and eight months in prison and a fine of NT$3 million (US$103,400).
Wu, while acquitted on charges relating to the embezzlement of money from the state affairs fund, was given a 20-month sentence for forgery in the matter of the fraudulent receipts. This sentence was also cut to 10 months in accordance with a commutation statute.
In the money laundering case, Wu was sentenced to two years in prison. She was also given another sentence of nine years in prison for her involvement in a bribery case related to the construction of the Nangang Exhibition Hall. The court ruled that Wu should be jailed for 11 years and six months, in addition to paying a fine of NT$22 million and being stripped of her civic rights for five years.
Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times
Last November, the Supreme Court sentenced Chen and Wu to 17.5 years in prison for involvement in the Longtan case and the appointment of Diana Chen (陳敏薰) as the chairperson of the Taipei Financial Center Corp (台北金融大樓公司).
The court at the time ordered a retrial of the state affairs fund embezzlement, money laundering and Nangang Exhibition Hall cases.
Taiwan High Court spokesman Chen Ching-chiao (陳晴教) yesterday said the court acquitted Chen of corruption in the state affairs fund case because he had spent more than the funds he received during his terms in office and spent all of the money on state affairs, including 21 secret diplomacy programs and bonuses to his staff.
Chen’s lawyer, Shih Yi-lin (石宜琳), said Chen has expressed gratitude about the ruling as well as regret over the sloppiness of the workings of state apparatus in his hasty detainment.
“We would like to think today’s verdict is related to the decriminalization of personal use of the ‘special affairs funds,’ because what the state affairs funds mean to the president is actually what the special affairs funds mean to different levels of government officials,” Shih said.
Personal use of the special affairs funds was decriminalized in May, ending a string of embezzlement cases against dozens of officials.
In its representation, Chen’s legal team also cited President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) “reservoir theory,” which Ma used to defend his use of the special funds during his stint as Taipei mayor and which successfully saw Ma through his own embezzlement case.
While Shih said Chen would decide whether to appeal the money-laundering and forgery charges after reviewing the written ruling, the supreme prosecutors’ office’s Special Investigation Division said it would appeal the ruling.
Commenting on the ruling, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson and presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said the state affairs funds case “contains historical factors” which the DPP believes the judiciary should take into account, while upholding fairness, independence and respect for human rights during the legal process.
Both the Presidential Office and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) spokesperson Lai Su-ju (賴素如) said they respected the court’s decision. KMT Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅), on the other hand, said he found the ruling shocking and slammed the judges “for selling their souls to the devil.”
The court also sentenced Chen’s son, Chen Chih-chung (陳致中) and daughter-in-law, Huang Jui-ching (黃睿靚), to 14 months and 12 months respectively for their roles in the money-laundering case. Huang was given four-years’ probation.
Chen Chih-chung said he was happy his father had been found innocent, but could not accept the verdict handed down to him and would appeal.
Additional reporting by CNA
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