Taiwan ex-president jailed for life for graft

Former Taiwan president Chen Shui-bian, known for fiery anti-China rhetoric while in office, was found guilty of corruption on Friday and sentenced to life in prison.

Taipei District Court convicted the two-term president on six charges related to bribery and corruption, closing a fractious, high-profile case that opened nearly three years ago and involved Chen’s wife and numerous family members and aides.

He was also fined T$200-million ($6-million).

Several hundred supporters demonstrated near the court and some threw plastic bottles and trash at police in protest after the verdict and sentence were announced.

Prosecutors had charged Chen with embezzling T$104-million ($3,2-million) from a special presidential office fund, accepting bribes of about $9-million related to a land procurement deal and taking another $2,73-million in kickbacks to help a contractor win its bid for a government project.

Chen has said the charges were political, denied wrongdoing and will appeal against the verdict, which is unlikely to affect China’s relations with President Ma Ying-jeou of the China-friendly Nationalist Party (KMT).

Chen’s wife, Wu Shu-chen, was convicted on seven counts of graft and also sentenced to life in jail, a court spokesperson said in a televised address. She was fined T$300-million.

Chen’s son and daughter-in-law were handed down sentences ranging from 20 to 30 months for related crimes.

While ruling from 2000 to 2008, Chen upset Beijing by advocating formal independence from China, which has claimed sovereignty over the self-ruled island since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949. — Reuters

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