12/18/2008, 00.00
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High Court calls on lower court to reconsider release of ex President Chen Shui-bian

Taipei District Court released the leader 32 days after his arrest. High Court heeds prosecution’s appeal. Chen views process against him as a political trial, one that might land him in jail for life.

Taipei (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Taiwan's High Court yesterday ordered a district court to reconsider its decision to release former President Chen Shui-bian without bail pending his trial on corruption charges. He had been spent 32 days in prison.

“The purpose of custody is aimed to prevent the former president from escaping here and colluding with the other defendants and destroying evidence,” a High Court spokesman said in heeding the prosecution’s appeal.

For the judges it was not enough for Chen to say he loved his country and that he would not flee but would stay instead to fight to clear his name.

Now the Taipei District Court will re-hear the case, but experts noted that although the High Court’s pronouncement is important, it is not binding.

Chen was president for eight years, till May 2008 when Ma Ying-jeou, from the Kuomintang, was elected.

He was charged with 13 other people, including his wife and son, of embezzling public funds earmarked for elections and the presidency as well as taking money out of the country. If found guilty, he could get life in prison.

Like most members of the now Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), now in the opposition, Chen is a strong supporter of Taiwan independence from mainland China.

For his lawyers the charges are “politically motivated”, designed to eliminate domestic opposition (from Chen and the DPP) to President Ma’s policy of better relations with Beijing.

However, legal circles and Taiwan’s Justice Minister Wang Ching-feng have always rejected the allegations.

Whatever the case may be, Chen’s trial could further damage the DPP’s image among voters, who will vote in next year’s local elections.

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See also
Opposition in Taipei to submit recall motion to oust president
Trial of former Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian opens
Opposition trying to oust Chen Shui-bian again
Ex-President Chen Shui-bian back in jail
2012 elections: DPP candidate Tsai on Taiwan’s future


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