By Hyo-Jin Paik
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
TAIPEI, Taiwan– Earlier this month, the Taiwan High Court sentenced the country’s ex-leader Chen Shui-bian to life in prison for money laundering, embezzling state funds, accepting bribes and committing forgery. This week, the same court rejected Chen’s petition for release on bail as Chen supporters demanded that the appellate court uphold Chen’s human rights.
One local newspaper said, “Let this be a warning to all political parties, politicians, government officials and businessmen. The Chen family deserves no sympathy for the heavy sentence. We should respect the court’s decision.”
Taiwan’s Ex-President Chen Shui-bian. Courtesy of Reuters.
Chen, however, has petitioned the U.S. to intervene and restore his civil and human rights. The Taiwan Civil Rights Litigation Organization is sponsoring a legal action for Chen and is demanding his immediate release.
Chen claims that under the 1952 San Francisco Peace Treaty, Taiwan was not awarded to Republic of China; therefore, still remains under U.S. Military Government. Accordingly, Chen plans on using international law and U.S. constitutional law to resolve his legal problems.
Calling Chen’s trial unfair and invalid, Taipei Director of Democratic Progressive Party Huang Ching-lin said he supports Chen’s theory.
Furthermore, some Taiwanese media also expressed concern for Chen’s case, especially for his lengthy detention during trial. One daily paper said, “There was a widespread belief that this was hardly a fair trial. The flawed process has affected the healthy developments in our country’s democracy and our international image.”
However, Chinese Nationalist Party Legislator Lee Hung-chun commented that Chen must be “mentally ill after spending so much time in detention.”
Chen has been in custody since December and continues to argue that he is innocent, claiming that he is a victim of Beijing’s political conspiracy. Chen said his corruption trial was a “political revenge for his lifelong push to declare formal independence from China.”
Chen’s wife also received a life sentence, while his son and daughter received shorter sentences.
For more information, please see:
AFP – Taiwan media divided over ex-leader’s life sentence – 11 September 2009
Asia News – Ex President Chen SHui-bian to stay in prison – 25 September 2009
China Post – High court decides to detain Chen Shui-bian – 25 September 2009
Taipei Times – Chen asks US court to intervene to free him – 24 September 2009