Prosecutors Indict Taiwan's Chen On Graft Charges

Prosecutors indicted former Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian on graft charges Friday after holding him in custody for a month to investigate money laundering and other corruption allegations against him.

Indicted together with Chen were his wife Wu Shu-chen, his son and daughter-in-law, three former aides in the presidential office, and eight other associates and family members.

Chen, 57, has denied the accusations, saying he is being persecuted by President Ma Ying-jeou's new government for having taken a strong anti-China stance during his presidency, which ended seven months ago.

Ma's office said it would not comment on the indictments.

Prosecutorial spokesman Chen Yun-nan said Chen Shui-bian and Wu together embezzled 104 million New Taiwan dollars ($3.12 million) from a special presidential fund and received bribes of $9 million in connection with a government land deal.

He said Wu separately received another bribe of NT$2.73 million ($82,000) in connection with a government construction project.

"Chen Shui-bian undermined justice again and again and showed no regret," Chen Yun-nan said. He asked the judges to give the defendants "the most severe sentence."

The former president has been held in a suburban Taipei jail since Nov. 12 during a prosecutorial probe into allegations he engaged in money laundering and other corruption offenses during his eight years in office.

Chen, who ended a 50-year monopoly on power by Ma's Nationalist Party in 2000, was first elected on promises he would end government corruption.

A former head of the Ministry of Justice's Bureau of Investigation — Taiwan's FBI — was sentenced to 10 years in prison earlier this month after being found guilty of concealing information on Chen's financial activities from judicial authorities.

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