The Taiwan High Court yesterday extended former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) detention by three months on the grounds that he still represented a flight risk if he were released.
The Court yesterday afternoon conducted a hearing to decide whether to continue to detain Chen while the Supreme Court is in the process of reviewing his case.
Taiwan High Court Judge Teng Chen-chiu (鄧振球) in the evening announced an extension of Chen’s detention by three months, which means Chen would be detained until at least Oct. 18.
Teng said that although the Chen family had wired back to Taiwan US$11.52 million from their Swiss bank accounts, Chen had to wire all the money back if he wanted to have a better chance of being released.
The former first family allegedly still has about US$7 million in Swiss accounts.
Teng said Chen could flee the country if he were released, adding that the former president had better foreign connections than most people and that with the foreign assets he could have access to, releasing him represented a risk.
Chen and his wife were convicted of embezzling public funds, forgery and money laundering during Chen’s two terms as president.
Chen was first detained at the Taipei Detention Center in Tucheng on Nov. 12, 2008, and released on Dec. 13, 2008, following his indictment.
He was detained again on Dec. 30, 2008, after the Taipei District Court approved a request by prosecutors to take him back into custody. He has remained in detention since.
The Taiwan High Court on June 11 reduced the life sentences for Chen and his wife, Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍), to 20 years in prison.
The court also reduced the fines for Chen and Wu to NT$170 million (US$5.2 million) and NT$200 million from the earlier NT$200 million and NT$300 million respectively.
Chen and Wu, as well as prosecutors, have appealed the case to the Supreme Court.
The former president maintains that he is innocent and that the accusations against him are part of a retribution campaign by President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration to please Beijing as it seeks rapprochement in the Taiwan Strait.