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Taiwan court extends sentence for ex-president Chen

The Taiwan High Court [official website, in Chinese] on Friday extended the jail sentence [press release, in Chinese] of former Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] for two months while the former leader prepares his appeal to a 20-year sentence for corruption and embezzlement. The court denied Chen's request for bail, stating that he posed a flight risk. The ruling marks the fourth time the court has extended Chen's detention. Chen was originally sentenced to life imprisonment, but the High Court reduced his sentence [JURIST reports] last week after finding that he had not embezzled as much money as previously thought. Chen's office has stated that he is very disappointed with the ruling. Legal experts have stated that under the new sentence, Chen could be released after only serving 10 years in prison. The court also reduced the life sentence of Chen's wife, Wu Shu-chen, to 20 years, as well as those of the couple's son and daughter-in-law.

Chen was originally found guilty on corruption charges and sentenced to life in prison in September. Chen's wife was also given a life sentence [CNA report] after the pair were convicted on charges of embezzlement, receiving bribes, forgery, and money laundering. A three-judge panel of the Taipei District Court [official website, in Chinese] also sentenced their son to two-and-a-half years in prison and their daughter-in-law to one year and eight months. Ruling on another indictment against Chen, the district court on last week found him not guilty of embezzling [JURIST report] USD $330,000 from the Foreign Affairs Ministry [official website] to finance his son's studies in the US. The court held that the indictment was without credibility [CNA report], was contradictory, and was not supported by the facts presented. Prosecutor General Huang Shyh-ming said that he may appeal to the High Court. Chen has maintained his innocence against all charges, claiming that current Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou [official website] is using Chen's trial to distance himself from Chen's anti-China views. Chen was also indicted in December for allegedly embezzling USD $20 million from banks [JURIST report] that sought to protect themselves during Chen's financial reform program.

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