Former Taiwan president's trial under way

Feb. 24, 2009 at 1:41 PM
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TAIPEI, Taiwan, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Former Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian appeared in a Taipei courtroom Tuesday as his highly publicized corruption case began, observers said.

Prosecutors claim Chen and his wife embezzled $3 million in public funds and accepted bribes of about $9 million in a land deal, the state-run Chinese news agency Xinhua reported.

Chen denies the charges and had been on a hunger strike since Friday, resuming eating on Monday. The judge asked him about his health before proceedings began and Chen reportedly said he felt uncomfortable and had a rapid heartbeat.

The trial has a circus atmosphere, attracting many reporters and a large police force called in to maintain order, Xinhua said.

Chen was president of Taiwan from May 2000 until May 2008.

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