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'Chen could face more graft charges'

world Updated: Sep 13, 2009 14:22 IST
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Taiwanese prosecutors are mulling more legal action against the island's former president and his wife, just days after the pair were jailed for life for corruption, it was reported on Sunday.

Investigators are examining Chen Shui-bian's alleged role in a further six cases, ranging from embezzlement of secret diplomatic funds to taking bribes and money laundering, the Taipei-based China Times said, without naming its source.

Taipei District Court sentenced Chen to life in jail on Friday after a corruption trial that he said was a political vendetta by the China-friendly Kuomintang government for his lifelong push to declare formal independence from China.

The 58-year-old was convicted of embezzling state funds, laundering money, accepting bribes and forgery. His wheelchair-bound wife Wu Shu-chen also received a life sentence.

The couple were also ordered to pay a combined fine of 500 million Taiwan dollars (15.24 million US).

Prosecutors are looking into evidence that allegedly shows Chen embezzled more than 300,000 US dollars from secret diplomatic funds during his 11 overseas visits as president, the Times said.

Chen, whose eight years as president ended in May last year, insists his trial was a political witch-hunt. The opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which he once led, urged the government to free him immediately.

"It is no longer necessary to detain former president Chen after the verdict. We demand his immediate release to ensure his full legal rights" during the appeal, the party said in a statement.

The United Daily News said the High Court is due to rule by September 25 if to continue detaining Chen.