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Decision to release Chen withdrawn again
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Taiwan's High Court withdrew a court decision for the second time early Sunday morning to release the island's former leader Chen Shui-bian after indictment against him on corruption charges.

The case was handed back to the Taipei district court, which would hold the hearing again as early as Sunday on whether to detain Chen.

The Taipei district court decided on December 25, for the second time after the High Court's withdrawal on December 17 of its first decision, to release Chen without bail on his own recognizance but banned him from leaving the island.

The prosecutors made the second appeal on Thursday and stated that they hoped this time the High Court could make a decision by itself, instead of sending the case back to the district court.

According to the High Court, the decision on Sunday morning was made because Chen could be involved in the runaway, testimony collusion and interference with the witnesses and other defendants.

The Taipei district court would assign the case to Tsai Shou-hsum, also presiding judge of the graft case of Chen's wife.

Chen was first indicted by the prosecutors on December 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 November 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 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 for "using her status to interfere in politics and rake in money and undermining the system."

(Xinhua News Agency December 28, 2008)

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