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Taiwan court in session to decide whether to detain ex-leader Chen
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The Taipei District Court was deliberating Monday if the island's former leader Chen Shui-bian should be returned to custody.

Chen appeared in court at 2:00 p.m. He could be detained, released on bail or released without bail after the hearing.

Taiwan's High Court on Sunday overruled the Taipei District Court ruling releasing Chen for a second time, and the district court decided to re-examine its decision Monday afternoon.

The high court feared Chen could be run away, or tamper with witnesses and evidence if he was free.

The district court had released him without bail on Dec 13, but banned him from leaving the island. Prosecutors appealed his release on Dec. 16, and the high court's first overruling followed on Dec. 17.

The second appeal was made last Thursday after the district court again released Chen without bail on Dec. 18.

The district court appointed Tsai Shou-hsum to the case. He is also presiding judge of corruption case against Chen's wife.

Chen was first indicted by prosecutors on Dec. 12 for money laundering and taking bribes during his eight years in office, which ended in May.

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

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

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

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

Taiwan prosecutors said earlier that they were seeking "the severest punishment" for Chen, and also recommended a heavy sentence for his wife for "using her status to interfere in politics and rake in money and undermining the system."

(Xinhua News Agency December 29, 2008)

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