03/04/2009, 00.00
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Two more months in prison for Chen Shuibian

Court rejects request for early release, confirms his detention fearful the might flee or tamper with the evidence. If guilty he could get life in prison. His wife goes on trial next 17 March.
Taipei (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Taipei District Court rejected a request made by former Taiwanese President Chen Shuibian for release and has instead extended his detention for another two months, until 26 May.

The court reached that decision saying that Chen is likely to flee if released. It also said that the former leader could use “his influence to try to obstruct the judicial proceedings”.

If he is found guilty on serious charges of corruption and other crimes, he could get life in prison.

Sources close to Chen, who has been in prison since 30 December and has already staged hunger strikes, said that he is not very optimistic about the ruling even though he continues to challenge his incarceration and the trial itself.

The former president claims that he is the victim of political persecution by his successor Ma Ying-jeou to please mainland China which hates him for his pro-independence views.

In January Chen published a book titled The Cross of Taiwan in which he reiterated his claim that the prosecution against him was politically motivated.

In an interview with a foreign newspaper he alleged that the mainland's hatred of him was the major reason for his prosecution.

The current government of Taiwan has reacted criticising Chen’s attacks.

But even some pro-independence leaders have dismissed his claims, saying they are an attempt to canvass sympathy from public opinion, which is very critical of the former president, his wife and other relatives and aides caught up in the affair.

Yesterday the court decided to begin the trial of former first lady Wu Shu-chen on 17 March, who is also up on charges of corruption, embezzlement and money laundering abroad.

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See also
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Trial of former Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian opens
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