09/15/2009, 00.00
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Chen Shui-bian appeals against life sentence, but the DPP expels him from the party

According to the accused the trial was manipulated to please China. The judge was appointed and not chosen by lot. The DPP, however, thinks of elections and separates from Chen, in an effort to reassure supporters. Taiwan shows greater democracy than mainland China.

Taipei (AsiaNews) - The former president Chen Shui-bian, who was sentenced to life imprisonment, has decided to appeal against the sentence in an attempt to assert his integrity. Meanwhile the party of which he was president, the DPP (Democratic Progress Party), has expelled him for five years.

On 11 September, the Taipei District Court sentenced Chen and his wife to life in prison for corruption, even forcing them to pay a fine of respectively 200 and 300 million Taiwanese dollars (4.19 and 6.2 million euros).

The former president has always rejected the allegations, saying his trial was politically motivated, triggered by the current president, Ma Ying-jeou, to ingratiate himself with Beijing, irritated by Chen's pro-independence slogans. As evidence of a manipulated justice Chen and his lawyer point to the fact that the judge, Tsai Shou-hsin, was appointed for his trial rather than chosen by lot, as is customary. Chen accuses Tsai of bias.

According to defence lawyer, Cheng Wen-lung, if the court had been unbiased, the verdict against Chen would have been more lenient, perhaps he would have even been cleared.

Presenting his appeal, the former president said that if released, he will strive to promote Taiwan independence.

But his attempts to show himself as the victim of a conspiracy and remain an influential personality, is being contrasted by the very policy of the DPP. To repair damage in the forthcoming local elections in December, the DPP has expelled Chen,  barring him from political participation for at least five years, although he has many supporters who believe in his innocence.

The spokesman for the DPP, Chao Tien-lin, called on party members to remain calm, some newspapers have revealed that judge Tsai has received anonymous death threats. That is why the DPP has not promoted any demonstrations protesting the sentence. Indeed, two days ago, Annette Lu Hsiu-lien, former vice-president and assistant to Chen, asked him and his family to apologize to constituents.

The Chinese media have kept a low profile in reporting the news of the condemnation of Chen Shui-bian. Many commentators point out that the trial of Chen shows how democracy in Taiwan is much more mature than the People's Republic. In China, most of the corruption trials of members of the party end with an acquittal. In addition, senior party executives or their children are never brought to the dock.


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