- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 12, 2008

From combined dispatches


Former Taiwanese leader China, was detained Tuesday after being questioned for most of the day about a money-laundering case.

Mr. Chen, a 58-year-old career lawyer and leader from 2000 to 2008, left a special Supreme Court prosecutor’s office in handcuffs after more than six hours, with about 300 officers guarding the area to fend off any protests.

As a court considered making a formal arrest Tuesday night, Mr. Chen said he had been hit by an officer, and he was sent to a hospital to be checked. A prosecutor’s spokesman said no one had struck him.

In early afternoon, as he was led away from the prosecutors’ office, Mr. Chen shouted, “This is a political persecution” and “Cheers for Taiwan.”

Mr. Chen, 57, whose anti-China, pro-independence activism was the hallmark of his recently concluded administration, said Monday he thought his detention was imminent. He said his successor, Ma Ying-jeou, was trying to placate China following violent protests last week against a visiting Chinese envoy.

But millions of Taiwanese revile Mr. Chen for permitting his presidency to be mired in an atmosphere of systematic corruption.

Friends and close advisers have been imprisoned on a variety of graft charges, his wife is being tried for purportedly looting a special presidential fund, and Mr. Chen himself is facing a complex series of judicial probes.

Tuesday’s questioning focused on allegations he laundered money and made illegal use of the special presidential fund during his eight years in office that ended in May.

Mr. Chen admitted in August that he broke the law by not fully disclosing campaign donations he had received, after a lawmaker claimed Mr. Chen’s son and daughter-in-law moved millions of dollars to Cayman Islands.

At the time, prosecutors said they wanted to determine whether the funds were indeed donations left over from political campaigns - as Mr. Chen insisted - or whether bribery might have been involved.

Under Taiwanese law, false declaration of donations is subject to a fine of $9,670, but money laundering carries a seven-year prison sentence.

Several lawmakers from Mr. Ma’s Nationalist Party have recently claimed that Mr. Chen took large bribes in connection with a spate of mergers initiated by the government in 2005, when several small banks took over a number of well-established financial institutions.

Taiwanese newspapers have also reported that Mr. Chen received millions of dollars in bribes from Taiwan’s Far Eastern Group. Both the company and Mr. Chen have denied those reports.

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