Page last updated at 10:13 GMT, Wednesday, 2 September 2009 11:13 UK

Wife of Taiwan's ex-leader jailed

Wu Shu-chen speaks to media about a libel lawsuit , 2004
Wu Shu-chen was found to have asked her children to lie in court

The wife of Taiwan's former president, Chen Shui-bian, has been sentenced to a year in jail for perjury.

Wu Shu-chen was found guilty of asking her children to lie in court in an embezzlement case against her.

The verdict is the first in a string of corruption-related cases against the couple, their relatives and associates.

Mr Chen's son, daughter and son-in-law have each been jailed for six months, and the verdict against Mr Chen himself is expected later this month.

The Chens had a dramatic fall from favour after losing power in elections last year. The high-profile case against them is being seen as a test of the new government's resolve to crack down on official corruption.

Prosecutors say Mr Chen could face life in prison if convicted on all the counts against him, including embezzling public funds, money laundering and accepting bribes.

The former president has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, and claims he is being persecuted for his anti-China views by his successor Ma Ying-jeou.

Since taking office in 2008, Mr Ma has tried to improve relations with Beijing, and move away from Mr Chen's pro-independence policies.

'False testimony'

Wu Shu-chen instigated perjury by instructing her children to lie in court, a prosecutor told reporters.

Chen Shui-bian (centre) raises his handcuffed-hands outside the prosecutor's office in Taipei (archive image)
Mr Chen says the claims against his family are politically motivated

The couple's son, Chen Chih-chung, daughter Chen Hsing-yu and son-in-law Chao Chien-ming were also found guilty of perjury.

The Chen family's "false testimony has wasted the country's judicial resources and prevented the court from exercising justice," a court spokesman is quoted as telling the French news agency AFP.

The court also handed down an 18-month sentence to Diana Chen, the former chairwoman of Taipei 101, one of the world's tallest buildings.

Prosecutors accused her of bribing the former president and his wife for an executive position in a state-run securities firm.

Wu Shu-chen faces further charges in the coming weeks, and the verdict for the case against her husband is due on 11 September.

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