Taiwan’s Former President Is Indicted
Mr. Chen, who served from 2000 to last May, faces charges that he and his family pocketed millions of dollars in campaign funds. “Ex-President Chen Shui-bian’s crimes are major,” Chen Yun-nan, a spokesman for the Supreme Court’s special prosecutor’s office, said. “We will ask the courts to give ex-President Chen Shui-bian the strictest punishment.”
Mr. Chen has been in police custody since Nov. 12, when the authorities announced a variety of allegations involving money laundering, embezzlement and other crimes. A vocal advocate for Taiwanese independence, Mr. Chen, 57, has denied the charges, saying his prosecution is a politically motivated attack by his successor, President Ma Ying-jeou.
Mr. Ma and other leaders of the Kuomintang, the Chinese Nationalist Party, have rejected the suggestion that they are influencing prosecutors.
The charges against Mr. Chen, of the rival Democratic Progressive Party, stem from an investigation that began during his second term and involve accusations that senior aides and relatives embezzled millions of dollars in campaign funds. Mr. Chen’s son, daughter-in-law and wife have also been charged in the scandal, as have 11 other family members and aides.
A populist with a flair for the dramatic, Mr. Chen has been a frequent critic of China, which considers Taiwan a renegade province. Unlike Mr. Chen, who is an ardent supporter of Taiwanese independence, Mr. Ma has been conciliatory toward Beijing.
Last month, shortly after his arrest, Mr. Chen went on a hunger strike, and after five days of not eating, he was hospitalized with an irregular heartbeat.
His arrest and indictment are the latest chapter in a long series of political and legal battles in Taiwan.Mr. Ma was indicted last year over the use of money while he was mayor of Taipei. The Supreme Court cleared him of the charges, paving the way for his presidential candidacy.