Taiwan ex-president appeals pretrial detention order

[JURIST] Former Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] on Monday appealed a Taiwan High Court [official website] order that he be detained while awaiting his trial on corruption charges [JURIST report]. The court made the decision last week, overruling a district court decision [JURIST report], citing risks of flight, collusion, and interference with other witnesses. Lawyers for Chen said the decision was politically motivated [Taiwan News report], and that he had done nothing to violate the terms of his release before his re-incarceration. They have also filed a petition to have the judges hearing Chen's case recused for potential bias. Late last week, the Taipei Bar Association [association website] defended [Taipei Times report] Chen lawyer Cheng Wen-lung against Taipei District Prosecutors Office [official website] decision to seek disciplinary action against Cheng for comments he has made against the judiciary. The charges against Chen include embezzlement, receiving bribes, forgery and money laundering, and his trial is scheduled to begin on January 19. His wife, his son and daughter-in-law, three former presidential aides, and eight other associates and family members have also been indicted in the case.

Chen has been detained since his November arrest [JURIST report] on suspicion of embezzling money from the state affairs fund. While in prison, Chen later went on a hunger strike and was hospitalized [JURIST reports]. Chen, the former leader of the now-opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) [party website, in Mandarin] who resigned the presidency in May 2008, has maintained his innocence and has said that the investigation of his conduct is a political attack by members of the ruling Kuomintang Party [party website]. Chen spent eight months in prison twenty-one years ago for defaming Nationalist leaders. In September, he was cleared [JURIST report] on more recent defamation charges.

 

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