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Former first couple to appeal guilty verdicts: lawyer

ROC Central News Agency

2011/10/13 22:50:01

Taipei, Oct. 13 (CNA) Former President Chen Shui-bian and his wife Wu Shu-jen, who were handed prison terms Thursday of 18 years and 11 years, respectively, for bribe-taking over a series of financial company mergers, will appeal the guilty verdicts, the ex-first couple's lawyers said later that day.

"We (the lawyers) will definitely appeal the High Court guilty verdicts," said Chen's lawyer.

Chen and Wu were also fined NT$180 million (US$5.95 million) and NT$102 million, respectively, for their parts in bribe-taking over a series of bank mergers during Chen's tenure as president between 2000 and 2008.

The couple was also ordered to repay NT$500 million of their illegally obtained money to the national coffers.

The High Court ruling overturned a November 2010 ruling by the Taipei District Court that acquitted the ex-president and former first lady of all the charges, based on a lack of evidence that they had asked for money from financial holding companies to help facilitate mergers.

According to the district court's interpretation, although the prosecutors accused Chen of accepting bribes while acting as president, financial company mergers do not fall under the scope of the president's responsibility, which begged the question of why Chen would even have been approached to intervene.

Chen's attorney described the High Court ruling as "political intervention" in judicial practice, while Wu's lawyer described the sentences as "far too much."

Meanwhile, Ma Yung-cheng, a former Presidential Office deputy secretary-general who was also found guilty in the same case, said in a statement that he will also appeal his verdict. Ma faces eight years in prison for his role in receiving NT$200 million on behalf of Chen.

Chen Hung-tah, a Supreme Court Special Investigation Division (SID) director in charge of the cases, expressed relief at the High Court verdict, saying that the district court judges had not made their decisions based on truth and evidence provided by the SID. (By Yoga Lai, Lee Hsiang-chun, Sherry Tang and Deborah Kuo) ENDITEM/J

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