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Ex-president not guilty of embezzling diplomatic funds (updated)

2010/06/08 22:36:21

Taipei, June 8 (CNA) The Taipei District Court ruled Tuesday thatformer President Chen Shui-bian is not guilty of embezzling fundsthat were earmarked for diplomatic missions.

A panel of three judges said in their judgment that theprosecutors from the Special Investigation Division under the SupremeProsecutors Office failed to prove in their indictment that Chen hadsiphoned off any of the funds.

Chen was indicted Sept. 22, 2009 for withholding US$30,000 from asum of US$100,000 given to him by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs fordiscretionary spending during each of his 11 overseas trips aspresident between August 2000 and September 2006.

The prosecutors charged in the indictment that Chen wired thefunds -- a total of US$330,000 -- to his son Chen Chih-chung, who wasstudying in the United States at the time.

But the judges dismissed the indictment as "a shoddy mishmash ofevidence without a morsel of credibility."

They said the prosecutors contradicted themselves by claiming intheir indictment that the spending of the allowances was "totallyunder the control of the Foreign Ministry and the president had nosay in the matter, " but in the same breath, the indictment said that"the allowances were meant to finance the president's unexpectedspending on state affairs."

The judges also criticized the prosecutors for using thetestimony of Wu Wang-hsia, mother of ex-first lady Wu Shu-jen,against her daughter, despite being fully aware that Wu Wang-hsia wasnot of sound mind and actually misidentified her son as her husbandoccasionally in her deposition.

Furthermore, the judges said, there were long gaps between thetimes Chen Shui-bian wired funds to Chen Chih-chung and the times heallegedly embezzled the diplomatic funds, making the prosecutors'claims that the ex-president used the diplomatic funds to finance hisson's studies in the United States "utterly unbelievable."

Prosecutor-General Huang Shyh-ming, who is the immediate superiorof the Special Investigation Division, said he would examine thejudgment very carefully after receiving it and that he will appeal tothe high court if he finds it to be not well-grounded.

The case is only one of four criminal cases in which ChenShui-bian is involved. The former president, who has been detainedsince Dec. 30, 2008, was sentenced to life imprisonment Sept. 11,2009 in another corruption case.

(By An Zhi-shiang, Chen Yi-wei, Lin Chang-shun and Maubo Chang)