Taiwan Court Convicts Former First Lady of Perjury

A court has sentenced Taiwan's former first lady to a year in jail for giving false testimony in a wide-ranging corruption case involving her and her husband, a preliminary verdict in a major trial expected to wrap up later this month.

Wu Shu-chen, wife of former President Chen Shui-bian, was convicted on charges of asking her children to lie during a probe into the graft case, the Taipei District Court said in a verdict handed out late Tuesday. It said that Chen's son, daughter and son-in-law each were sentenced to six months in jail for perjury.

Following months of proceedings in the main corruption trial, the court is scheduled to pass verdicts on Chen and Wu on Sept. 11. Prosecutors have said Chen could face life in prison if convicted
on all counts, including embezzlement and bribe-taking.

Chen 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 for his anti-China views.

Since taking office last year, Ma has aggressively tried to push aside Chen's pro-independence policies and improve relations with Beijing. Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949.

Wu is also expected to be sentenced to lengthy jail terms on bribe-taking and money laundering charges. She has denied the charges but pleaded guilty to forgery.

Chen, 58, was charged of embezzling NT$104 million for most of his presidency ($3.15 million at the current exchange rate) from a special presidential fund, receiving bribes worth at least $9 million in U.S. currency in connection with a government land deal and laundering part of the funds by wiring the money to Swiss bank accounts.

Chen - who served as president from 2000 to 2008 - has been held in a suburban Taipei detention center since last December. Judges have rejected his appeals for release on flight risks.

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