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Taiwan ex-leader in hospital

FORMER Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian was hospitalized for dehydration yesterday after a two-day hunger strike to protest his detention over graft charges, a hospital official said.

Television footage showed police officers moving a pale-looking Chen with his eyes closed onto a gurney and into the Taipei County Hospital in the suburb of Banciao.

The Tucheng Detention Center - where Chen has been held since November on corruption charges - said in a statement he was transferred to the hospital after showing signs of dehydration yesterday morning. It said he had refused water and solid food for two days.

The hospital's Deputy Superintendent Yang Chang-bin said Chen was suffering from "slight dehydration" but was conscious and had cooperated with medical staff.

Yang recommended that Chen stay in the hospital for an unspecified period of time for further monitoring.

Chen, 58, and wife Wu Shu-chen are standing trial on charges of embezzling NT$104 million (US$3.15 million) from a special government fund while in power, receiving bribes worth at least US$9 million in US currency in connection with a government land deal, and laundering part of the funds by wiring the money to Swiss bank accounts.

The couple was indicted on new graft charges earlier this week. Prosecutors said they also took NT$290 million in bribes from 2002 to 2005 from a local banker, camouflaging the money as either political donations or funds to promote Taiwanese interests overseas.

Chen may face life in prison if convicted. The corruption probe has included family and former staff.


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