[JURIST] Former Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] was indicted Thursday along with his wife and 20 other family members and prominent business leaders on charges of corruption and money laundering in relation to Chen's financial reform program. Chen and his wife are accused [Taiwan News report] of taking bribes from banks and financial institutions that sought to protect themselves during the reform. Prosecutors allege that the couple took more than $20 million [Taipei Times report] from financial groups that sought to ensure that their mergers with smaller financial institutions went smoothly. Additionally, Chen's daughter, who had previously avoided charges, was indicted [Formosa News report] for using state funds to buy a house.
Chen, who served as president of Taiwan from 2000-2008, and his wife have been serving life sentences [JURIST report] since September, when they were found guilty of embezzlement, receiving bribes, forgery, and money laundering. Taiwan's Constitutional Court [official website, in Chinese] dismissed an appeal [JURIST report] in October, in which Chen claimed that his constitutional rights were violated when judges were replaced during the proceedings against him. Chen was also indicted [JURIST report] shortly after his September life sentence on additional corruption charges relating to funds he received while traveling abroad as president. Chen was initially detained last November, and was formally indicted [JURIST report] a month later. In January he unsuccessfully appealed [JURIST report] his pretrial detention, after staging three hunger strikes in protest. Chen maintains that current Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou [official website; JURIST news archive] is using Chen's trial to distance himself from Chen's anti-China views.