Ex-president's son to lose councillor seat: Taiwan

Former President Chen Shui-bian's son Chen Chih-chung will be relieved of duty as a Kaohsiung councillor after the Supreme Court yesterday rejected an appeal by him and his mother, Wu Shu-chen, upholding a prison term imposed for perjury in their corruption cases, the Ministry of Interior Affairs said yesterday.

The final decision by the Supreme Court to uphold Chen's three-month sentence, which is not commuted to a fine or to a suspended sentence, means that the Executive Yuan will notify the Kaohsiung City Council to dismiss Chen upon receiving the written verdict from the court, the MOI said.

Chen Chih-chung earlier yesterday criticized the Supreme Court's ruling as a political decision while stressing he will study the case with his lawyers after receiving the written verdict from the court.

According to Taiwan regulations, people sentenced to jail terms of less than six months can substitute imprisonment with social labour service under the consent of the prosecutors. Chen, however, did not respond to questions by the media on whether he will apply for social labour service.

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 while her daughter was given a two-year suspended sentence for perjury. The Chens 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.

The senior 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 uses a wheelchair and is 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.

Other members of the former first family are still appealing convictions for other offences including corruption and money laundering.