Taiwan ex-president indicted again, say prosecutors

Former Taiwan president Chen Shui-bian, sentenced to life in prison earlier this month for graft, was indicted again on Tuesday on more charges on seizing government money, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors indicted Chen, a former National Security Council secretary-general and a former deputy foreign minister, on suspicion of taking foreign affairs-related funds, Taiwan’s Supreme Prosecutors Office said in a statement.

Chen was indicted on suspicion of taking $330 000 worth of funds from the Foreign Ministry, using the money for his son’s overseas education, the office said.

On September 11 the Taipei District Court sentenced Chen to life in prison on six charges related to corruption and bribery, closing a high-profile case that opened nearly three years ago, involving Chen’s wife and numerous family members and aides. He was also fined $6-million.

The conviction is likely to affect support for Taiwan’s opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which backed the former president when he was in office and faces tough local elections at the end of the year. Chen left the DPP last year.

Chen, now in jail after serving two terms as president from 2000 to 2008, has appealed the conviction, rejecting the charges and calling them politically motivated.

Separately, Chen’s foundation said on Tuesday he would file a lawsuit in Washington asking the United States to clarify its stance on Taiwan’s sovereignty. Chen irked China and the US while in office by seeking Taiwan’s formal independence.

China has claimed sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan since 1949, when Mao Zedong’s forces won the Chinese civil war and Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists fled to the island. Washington backs Beijing, rather than Taipei, diplomatically. — Reuters

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