Page last updated at 00:27 GMT, Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Taiwan ex-president back in jail


Former Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian

Taiwan's ex-President, Chen Shui-bian, has been returned to prison pending his trial on corruption charges, after a court reversed a decision to free him.

The Taipei District Court judges are reported to have said there was a risk he could collude with other suspects, destroy evidence and flee the island.

Mr Chen left office in May and denies any wrongdoing.

He was taken into custody in November and charged with embezzling government funds, fraud and money-laundering.

Others among the 12 charged in connection with the case include Mr Chen's wife, son and daughter-in-law.

The 57-year-old former leader was first jailed in Taipei on 12 November while prosecutors probed his affairs.

He spent 32 days in Tucheng prison before being released, but as a result of the latest court decision he has now been returned there.

Family allegations

Chen Shui-bian
Chen had been freed pending the trial, but is now back in jail

Mr Chen and his family have been mired in corruption allegations since July 2006, when his son-in-law was charged with insider trading on the stock market.

The following November, his wife faced charges of corruption and forgery.

Presidential immunity prevented prosecutors from charging Mr Chen when he was in office, but now they are free to take action.

Mr Chen and his wife stand accused of embezzling millions of dollars in public funds and accepting a huge bribe in a land purchase deal.

Legal experts say the former leader could face life in prison if convicted of all the charges against him.

Mr Chen has maintained his innocence throughout the investigation, insisting his political opponents are mounting a "witch-hunt" against him, and accusing the new administration of making him "a sacrifice to appease China".

He has been a vocal and persistent critic of the new government's China policies since he left office, at the end of eight years in the presidency.

His accusations have been denied by both the Chinese government and Taiwan's current President Ma Ying-jeou, of the Nationalist Kuomingtang party (KMT).

Taiwan has been ruled separately from China since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949, when the defeated Kuomintang retreated to Taiwan to create a self-governing entity.

But Beijing sees the island as a breakaway province which should be reunified with the mainland, by force if necessary.

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