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Graft-charged Taiwan ex-leader Chen back in custody
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Former Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian was back in prison on corruption charges following a verdict by the Taipei District Court.

The court delivered its verdict Tuesday morning after a 12-hour hearing.

Chen was taken back to jail at 3:50 a.m. Tuesday but the court verdict allowed him to meet his lawyer and family.

The court said it feared that if Chen were free he could commit serious crimes and could tamper with witnesses and evidence or even abscond.

Chen and his wife were charged with embezzling 104 million New Taiwan dollars (US$3.15 million) in public funds and accepting bribes of about US$9 million in a land purchase deal.

At the beginning of the Monday hearing, Chen's lawyer requested the withdrawal of the judge to prevent the trial from being carried out. But the request was overruled.

The district court had earlier agreed twice to release Chen without bail. Prosecutors successfully challenged the verdicts twice in a higher court.

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.

The district court decided to release 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.

(Xinhua News Agency December 30, 2008)

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