Former Taiwan leader gets reduced sentence

08:06, June 12, 2010      

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Taiwan's High Court rejected an appeal Friday by convicted former Taiwanese "president" Chen Shui-bian on graft charges, but reduced his sentence from life imprisonment to 20 years, a controversial ruling that divided Taiwan politicians and the public.

Chen, 59, and his wife Wu Shu-chen were sued over at least six cases of crimes including embezzlement, receiving bribes, money laundering, committing forgery and other abuses from 2000 to 2008, when he was in power.

In the first trial over four cases in September 2009, Chen and Wu were found guilty and both were sentenced to life imprisonment by the Taipei District Court, making him the first former leader convicted after stepping down.

Chief Judge Teng Chen-chiu said Friday that the High Court decided to reduce Chen's sentence mainly because it "considered the amount of embezzled public funds smaller than the lower court," the BBC reported Friday.

Taiwan's Central News Agency reported that the embezzled amount, which stood at NT$14 mil-lion ($432,100), is much less than the NT$174 million previously ruled by the district court.

As of Thursday, Chen Shui-bian's family had wired back NT$460 million of the NT$700 million in an account in Switzerland, a move that helped reduce the couple's sentences, the report said.

Chen was fined NT$170 million and Wu was fined NT$200 million in the latest verdict. Both totals were lower than the NT$200 million and NT$300 million fines from the first trial.

"He was not pleased at the ruling and believes he should have been acquitted," Shih Yi-lin, Chen's lawyer, was quoted by the AP as saying. "But he also believes he has a good chance on the next appeal, so he was not particularly upset."

Chen could appeal next to Taiwan's Supreme Court, and if the court upholds his conviction, he can further appeal to the highest court on the island, the Council of Grand Justices. Chen could also be pardoned by Taiwan's incumbent president, but only after the legal process against him has been exhausted.

Chen's son, Chen Chih-chung, was sentenced to one year and two months in prison with a fine of NT$30 million. Huang Jui-ching, the son's wife, got a one-year term and a fine of NT$20 million, according to today's ruling, Presiding Judge Teng said in the court Friday.

Security was intensified around the courthouse during the sentencing. After the ruling, Chen's supporters expressed their dissatisfaction and sang songs asking the court to declare Chen innocent. But his opponents held banners outside the court in hopes that the previous ruling would be upheld.

Source:Global Times
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(Editor:梁军)

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