A three-judge panel of Taiwan's High Court ruled yesterday to continue the detention of former Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian.
Former Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian arrives at the Taiwan High Court in Taipei yesterday. Chen, sentenced to life in prison earlier this month for graft, has appealed the conviction, rejecting the charges and calling them politically motivated. [Xinhua]
Chen has been detained in a Taipei facility since late 2008 on corruption charges, and was sentenced to life in prison by the Taipei District Court earlier this month after he was found guilty of embezzling millions during his 2000-08 "presidency" from a special "presidential fund", and receiving bribes worth at least US$9 million. Chen is appealing the sentence.
The panel, composed by Teng Chen-chiu, Peng Hsing-ming and Pan Tsui-hsueh, was formed through a drawing of lots among 81 judges in Taiwan High Court.
The panel will handle the corruption case of Chen and his family, following an appeal by Chen against a lower court verdict.
The new panel was described by Taiwan media as one "without obvious political position" and "valuing human rights."
Teng, the presiding judge, once approved Chen's request for release last December.
Chuang Chi-ming, secretary of Chen Shui-bian's office, told China Daily yesterday that they believe the panel was selected in a "fair and open way" in the High Court, and they are "hoping the new judges release Chen".
The High Court has urged the media not to publish photos of the judges to protect their privacy and allow them to handle the case without interference.
Tsai Shou-Hsun, presiding judge of the Taipei District Court, was threatened several times by Chen's supporters during the hearing process. His house in south Taiwan was even defaced with paint after the district court sentenced Chen and his wife Wu Shu-chen to life in prison on several counts of corruption on Sept 11.
Taiwan media reported Chen has put all his hope on the second trial.
Chen reportedly said "Tsai had been used by someone as a chess piece and he doesn't believe judges in the High Court will also act like Tsai".
It is common in Taiwan for second verdicts to differ from the first ones, and there are precedents where those found guilty of corruption were declared innocent in a second trial.
But most Taiwan people think the first verdict was fair.
A recent poll conducted by Taipei-based TVBS showed that 50 percent of respondents thought sentences of life-imprisonment for Chen and his wife were not too harsh. Only 29 percent said they were too harsh.
In another survey, conducted by Taipei-based newspaper China Times, 39 percent of the respondents said the sentences were proper, 13 percent said they were too lenient while only 24 percent said they were too harsh.
(China Daily September 25, 2009)