Former first lady Wu to appear in court

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Former first lady Wu Shu-chen is scheduled to attend a trial tomorrow on corruption charges over the use of ex-President Chen Shui-bian’s special presidential expense. It will be her first court appearance before the Taipei District Court since she fainted during the first siting in December 2006. She has since taken sick leaves from the trial 16 times. As of yesterday the court had not received another sick leave request from the wheelchair-bound defendant, the United Evening News reported yesterday. Chen’s office said whether Wu can attend the trial will depend on her health condition, which will require her medical team’s assessment. Her medical team from National Taiwan University Hospital has reportedly told prosecutors that her attending the trial would not pose immediate threats to her life. But her state of health could only allow for brief sessions in court, the medical team revealed. The court has asked the team to make all necessary preparations for Wu’s presence before the court. The United Evening News said prosecutors might consider issuing a warrant of arrest to force her attendance if she refused to show up again. Wu stands accused of using false receipts to gain reimbursement from Chen’s state affairs funds during his presidential stint. Chen, who is also being investigated for his role in the case, has maintained that they never pocketed any money from the state affairs funds, which all went to national matters, including secret diplomatic work. But he refused to reveal the details of the diplomatic work, which he describes as classified information, revelations of which would jeopardize national security.

President Ma Ying-jeou has nevertheless declassified all items of information related to the case, saying none of them deserve to be kept secret. Chen, Wu and their family and relatives are also being investigated for alleged money laundering after the former president publicly admitted last month that his wife had remitted large sums from his unused campaign funds out of Taiwan. The Next magazine, in its latest edition published yesterday, made fresh revelations concerning alleged behind-the-scene quarrels between the former first couple over the money. Wu, according to the weekly, twice tried to slam herself against the wall in a suicide attempt as she tried to stop Chen from making the public confession. But that apparently did not prevent Chen from calling a press conference in mid August to make the public confession and apologize for Wu transferring the money overseas without his knowledge. Chen’s office responded to Next’s fresh allegations by reiterating its claims that Wu had been supportive of Chen’s public confession. The magazine also cited some visitors to the Chen family as saying that the former president had contemplated suicide after his allies and supporters from the Democratic Progressive Party deserted him.