The Taipei District Court found former President Chen Shui-bian not guilty Tuesday of embezzling diplomatic funds.Huge news. Still assessing import.
Chen was indicted last September for allegedly using 11 foreign trips to wire US$330,000 (NT$10 million) in special diplomatic funds to his son, Chen Chih-chung, who was studying in the United States at the time.
However, the court ruled Tuesday that there was no proof such transfers occurred.
“Prosecutors were unable to provide evidence that the ex-President wired secret and other funds budgeted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs into U.S. accounts held by his son Chih-chung,” court spokesman Huang Chun-ming told reporters after the verdict.
Chen made the trips between August 2000 and September 2006, and was accused of taking part of ministry funds each time to finance his son.
The court will deal separately with indictments against former Vice Premier Chiou I-jen, who served as secretary-general of the National Security Council, and former Vice Foreign Minister Michael Kao over the alleged embezzlement of US$500,000 (NT$15 million) worth in traveler’s checks.
Chen was not in court for the verdict. He has been detained at the Taipei Detention Center in Tucheng, Taipei County, since December 30, 2008, and the latest extension of his custody remains valid until June 23. Chen was not in court for the sentencing Tuesday.
The Taiwan High Court is scheduled to issue its verdicts on Friday in the other cases of money laundering and corruption surrounding the former First Family. Chen appealed against last September’s Taipei District Court sentences in the cases. The court gave Chen life and a fine of NT$200 million, while his wife Wu Shu-jen received life and a NT$300 million fine.
In August 2008, allegations broke that Chen and Wu had moved millions overseas into a series of accounts held by relatives. The accusations also involved payments by prominent business groups which prosecutors said were bribes while Chen and his aides and relatives said they were political donations.
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