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Taiwan's Former Leader, Wife Get New Jail Terms

Thursday, 20 Dec 2012 07:49 AM

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan's former president Chen Shui-bian, already serving a long prison term for corruption, was Thursday convicted and sentenced to another 10 years in another graft case.

Chen was sentenced Thursday for taking bribes from a local financial group during a high-profile merger case, the supreme court said in a statement

The 62-year-old is already serving an 18 1/2-year term for corruption and money-laundering.

Under Taiwanese law, an individual can serve only a maximum 20 years in prison unless a life term is imposed. A court will announce early next year how much Chen's jail term will be extended following Thursday's ruling.

But prosecutor Chen Hung-ta told AFP the latest conviction was still meaningful because legal authorities would be able to ask the Swiss government to return the $13 million, which the Chen family deposited in a Swiss bank.

The court said the money was paid to Chen as a bribe by the financial group involved in the scandal. The sum has been frozen by Swiss authorities since the scandal broke in 2008.

Swiss authorities have already returned to Taiwan about $20 million in deposits held by Chen following his money-laundering conviction.

Chen's wife Wu Shu-chen, already sentenced to 19 years and two months on four convictions including corruption and perjury, was also convicted and sentenced to eight years in jail for graft on Thursday.

Wu, 59, who is paralyzed from the waist down and confined to a wheelchair, has been spared from serving her sentence due to poor health.

Chen was arrested in November 2008, less than six months after he left office, on corruption claims stemming from his two terms as president between 2000 and 2008.

He and family members have been accused of laundering millions of dollars by sending political donations and secret diplomatic funds abroad, and taking kickbacks on government contracts.

Chen insists that the legal action against him is a vendetta carried out by Taiwan's current Beijing-friendly government in retaliation for his eight years in power, when he promoted Taiwan's independence from China.

The government flatly rejects the allegations.

© AFP 2015

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