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Chen's bail application turned down by court

A COURT in Taiwan yesterday rejected an appeal from former leader Chen Shui-bian to be released from detention during his trial on corruption and embezzlement charges.

The 58-year-old Chen has been held in a suburban Taipei detention facility since late December.

Chen was indicted on December 12 and is standing trial on charges of embezzling NT$104 million (US$3.15 million) from a special fund, receiving bribes worth at least US$9 million in United States currency and laundering funds overseas.

Taipei District Court spokesman Huang Chun-ming said judges accepted the prosecution's argument that the original reasons for keeping Chen in jail - preventing him from fleeing Taiwan and colluding with alleged coconspirators - were still valid.

Last week, he was indicted on an additional charge of taking NT$290 million in bribes from 2002 to 2005 from a local banker.

He has consistently professed his innocence, saying that his successor, Ma Ying-jeou, is persecuting him for his pro-independence views.

Chen was hospitalized on Saturday after beginning a hunger strike - his second since being detained.

A court hearing scheduled for today has been canceled because of his ill health.


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