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Taipei court confirms Chen Shui-bian's release
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The Taipei district court made a verdict to keep graft-charged former Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian out of custody Thursday after eight hours of hearing.

The court turned down the prosecutors' appeal to detain Chen as they failed to present enough evidence to show that Chen had disturbed witnesses, colluded with other suspects or attempted to escape abroad, according to the verdict.

Chen was released without bail on his own recognizance again. The same court released him early Saturday morning but banned him from leaving the island, after the prosecutors indicted him last Friday for money laundering and taking bribes during his eight years in office, which ended in May.

But the verdict required Chen not to press witnesses, prosecutors or the police and to be present at the court as requested.

After the Saturday verdict, the prosecutors appealed to the Taiwan High Court on Tuesday. A day later the high court withdrew the verdict and handed the case back to the district court.

Chen had been in custody for investigation since Nov. 12.

Chen and his wife were alleged to have embezzled 104 million New Taiwan dollars (3.15 million U.S. dollars) in public funds and accepted bribes of about 9 million U.S. dollars in a land purchase deal.

His wife was also alleged to have taken a kickback of 2.7 million U.S. dollars from a construction project, according to prosecutors.

Their son, daughter-in-law and 10 others were also said to have assisted in concealing the crime and remitting the money to overseas bank accounts.

Taiwan prosecutors have said earlier that they were seeking "the severest punishment" for Chen.

They also recommended a heavy sentence for his wife Wu for "using her status to interfere in politics and rake in money and undermining the system."

(Xinhua News Agency December 19, 2008)

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