Taiwan ex-first lady loses appeal in perjury case

TAIPEI - Taiwan's supreme court on Wednesday rejected an appeal by the wife of former president Chen Shui-bian, upholding a prison term imposed on her for instigating perjury in their corruption cases.

A district court in 2009 sentenced Wu Shu-chen to 12 months in jail for instructing her children to lie during a probe into embezzlement charges against her and her husband. The high court later cut the term to nine months.

Her son and son-in-law both received three-month jail terms and her daughter got a two-year suspended sentence for perjury. The Chens had appealed, saying the punishment was too harsh since they had confessed.

"They were members of the former first family but they misled the investigation with false testimonies ... the appeal is rejected as the sentences are not too heavy," the top court said in a statement.

Chen, who was president between 2000 and 2008, is serving a jail term of 17 years and six months on two bribery convictions in a wide-ranging corruption case that saw his wife get the same sentence.

Wu, who is wheelchair-bound and paralysed from the waist down, was spared from serving her sentence due to poor health.

Instead, she is barred from moving her residence or leaving Taiwan without prior approval, and is subject to routine and random inspections conducted by prosecutors.

Chen has dismissed his corruption conviction as a political vendetta by the China-friendly Kuomintang government for his pro-independence stance while in power.