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Beijing dismisses rumor about involvement in Chen's case
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Taiwan's former leader Chen Shui-bian fabricated rumors that he was being "sacrificed" to the mainland at a time of warming cross-Straits relations, the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council said on Wednesday.

Chen, who was Wednesday formally arrested on suspicion of money laundering, said on Tuesday that Ma Ying-jeou, his successor as the Taiwan leader, wanted him in jail to appease the mainland.

However, Taiwan Affairs Office spokeswoman Fan Liqing said the allegation was "a sheer fabrication".

"This is nothing but rumor mongering by Chen Shui-bian," she told a regular press conference on Wednesday, "I believe everybody can see the motives behind his clumsy trick."

Fan said the mainland had "noted" Chen's arrest, but she refused to make any further comments.

Li Jiaquan, a researcher with the Institute of Taiwan Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told China Daily Wednesday that Chen was trying to divert the public's attention away from his corruption by fanning the flames of anti-mainland sentiment.

"His case has nothing to do with placating the mainland," he said, "It is a case of bringing a corrupt leader to justice."

Chen, 57, "president" of Taiwan from 2000 until May of this year, was detained on Tuesday, and arrested after a 21-hour court hearing.

The hearing was interrupted for several hours after the former leader complained he had been injured while being transported to the court building. He was returned to the court after doctors found he had sustained only a minor muscle tear, court spokesman Huang Chun-ming said.

Chen was arrested on suspicion of graft, bribery, forgery, money laundering and illegal possession of public assets, the Taipei District Court said in a statement.

"After questioning the suspect, the court believes his crimes to be severe, and there are enough facts to believe there is buried evidence, fabrication, altered evidence and conspiracy among suspects or witnesses," it said.

Although Chen has not been formally charged, he can be held for four months, most likely in a jail in Taipei.

He has denied any wrongdoing.

Chen's arrest - the first of a former Taiwan "president" - and the suspicion surrounding others in the case has cast a shadow over his pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, which is now the main opposition party after its landslide defeat in the "legislative" and "presidential" elections in May.

Chen has cast himself as a victim in the case, saying the aggressive investigation is the result of behind-the-scenes pressure from the ruling Kuomintang, which favors closer ties with the mainland.

The list of suspected crimes merges two cases, one involving misuse of a confidential "State" affairs fund and the other related to money laundering, a prosecutor's spokesman said.

(China Daily November 13, 2008)

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