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Chen's wife confesses to graft

WU Shu-chen, wife of former Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian, confessed yesterday in a Taipei court to some of the corruption charges lodged against her and apologized for her family's actions.

Wu is being tried in a corruption case involving her husband and other relatives.

She told a three-judge panel that she sent abroad US$2.2 million she received from a contractor in connection with a government construction project and that she forged documents that were related to a special government fund.

But she did not admit to charges of embezzling money from the fund and other charges of taking bribes in connection with a land deal and the government construction project.

The case against Wu is part of a complex web of charges that has also ensnared her husband Chen Shui-bian, as well as her son, daughter-in-law and brother.

Wu's appearance was her first at the court since proceedings against her began in December 2006. She fainted early on in that session and was rushed to a Taipei hospital.

After yesterday's session was adjourned, Wu told reporters she regretted the considerable social and personal dislocation her case had caused.

"I apologize for involving several innocent family members ... also for causing turmoil in Taiwan society," she said.

The slew of charges against the Chens has captivated the island, particularly since last May when Chen left office and prosecutors announced they were opening a graft investigation against him.

Six months later Chen was arrested on charges of money laundering, forging documents, taking bribes and embezzlement and spent 32 days in jail pending the completion of the probe against him.

On January 19 Chen pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

But two days later, his son pleaded guilty to money laundering as did his daughter-in-law and Wu's brother.


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