090922 AFP: Taiwan media divided over ex-leader’s life sentence [陈水扁]

Date: Tue, Sep 22, 2009 at 8:59 PM
Subject: Taiwan media divided over ex-leader's life sentence [陈水扁]
To: "salon-friends@googlegroups.com" <salon-friends@googlegroups.com>, "lihlii@googlegroups.com" <lihlii@googlegroups.com>

Taiwan media divided over ex-leader's life sentence
(AFP) – Sep 11, 2009

TAIPEI — Media in Taiwan were divided on Saturday over former president Chen Shui-bian's conviction on corruption charges, with some hailing it as a "milestone" while others said it was a "flawed" process.
The Taipei district court sentenced Chen to life in jail on Friday after a corruption trial that he said was political revenge for his lifelong push to declare formal independence from China.
The 58-year-old was found guilty of embezzling state funds, laundering money, accepting bribes and committing forgery. His wheelchair-bound wife Wu Shu-chen also received a life sentence.
The ex-leader's son Chen Chih-chung was given a prison term of two-and-a-half years for money laundering, while daughter-in-law Huang Jui-ching received a suspended sentence on the same charge.
"The ruling is a milestone in Taiwan's judicial history," the Apple Daily in Taipei said in an editorial.
"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," it said.
The United Daily News said the verdict shows that Taiwan is a "true democratic country ruled by the law."
"The judiciary have proved with this verdict that 'everyone is equal in the eyes of the law'… We not only can elect our president but we can also sentence a guilty president," it said.
However, other media reiterated concerns over the handling of Chen's case, particularly the court's decision to lock him up during the trial.
Chen was first detained in November before he was formally charged with corruption. He was freed for two weeks in December until the court replaced the judges in his case. Those judges then decided to detain him again.
"There were many problems with the case that raised widespread doubts… the most problematic of all was the lengthy detention of the defendant," said the Liberty Times.
"There was a widespread belief that this was hardly a fair trial," the daily added. "The flawed process has affected healthy developments in our country's democracy and our international image."
The verdicts marked the climax of a court drama that has gripped and divided the island's 23 million people since Chen's arrest only six months after leaving office in May last year.
Chen had blasted the trial as a vendetta by his successor, Ma Ying-jeou, of the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang (KMT) party, a charge Ma has denied.
Taiwan has been governed separately from China since 1949, but Beijing still considers the island as part of its territory and has vowed to take it back, by force if necessary.
"Chen's enemies in the KMT will celebrate tonight, comfortable in the knowledge that the man most responsible… for furthering the agenda of an independent, democratic Taiwan has been taken out," said the Taipei Times.

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