China Beat Archive



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June 3, 2009 in The China Beat


Copyright June 3, 2009. Used by permission.


In Taiwan, June 4 marks another anniversary, namely the 185th day of Chen Shuibian’s detention without having been convicted of a crime. Chen was first ordered to be held in custody on the night of November 11, 2008, with actual detention beginning on November 12. Taking into account the few days during which he was released in December, Chen’s incarceration has lasted almost 200 days now, with no end in sight. In principle, he can be held in detention indefinitely due to the fact that he has been charged with a felony, and because prosecutors have expressed concerns that Chen might flee the country, engage in collusion with other suspects, or tamper with evidence and witnesses. If a judge agrees with these arguments, an extension can be granted every two months. Efforts by Chen and his legal team to challenge prosecutorial evidence in court have also served to lengthen the term of his detention.

Despite the fact that his detention started on November 12, the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office did not indict Chen until December 12, charging him with accepting bribes, laundering political donations, and looting public funds. The extent of Chen’s corruption (as well as that of his family members) is said to have extended to the tens of millions of U.S. dollars, and lasted throughout his 2000-2008 presidency. Legal proceedings are currently underway to determine the guilt or innocence of those accused. Chen’s wife has also been indicted, while just yesterday his son and daughter were listed as defendants and may be charged with perjury.

When the state decides to break an individual, it can draw on an array of weapons in its arsenal, including torture, imprisonment, harassment (often extending to loved ones and friends), confiscation of property, and the denial of citizen’s privileges, all of which involve the stripping away of an individual’s human rights. Another form of this abrogation is detention, with its resulting loss of freedom and daily humiliations.