Taiwan court cuts ex-president`s jail term

The former president was convicted last year of embezzling state funds.

Taipei: Taiwan`s high court on Friday reduced former president Chen Shui-bian`s life sentence for corruption to 20 years in jail, a court official said.

The official, who did not give her name, said Taiwan`s former first lady Wu Shu-chen`s life conviction for graft was cut to 14 years by the high court at a meeting early in the day.

The 59-year-old former president was convicted last year of embezzling state funds, laundering money, accepting bribes and committing forgery and was sentenced to life.

The high court met, with Chen present, in downtown Taipei amid tight security, with uniformed police guarding the court building, which was also ringed with barbed wire.

"Chen is innocent!" a group of supporters of the former president chanted outside the court.

Chen has blasted the charges against him as a vendetta by the island`s current Beijing-friendly administration over his pro-independence stance while president.

Taiwan has been governed separately from China since 1949, but Beijing still considers the island as part of its territory and has vowed to take it back, by force if necessary.

It was not immediately clear if the victims were in South Africa for the football World Cup. The England team is due to play the United States on Saturday in the town of Rustenburg in one of the tournament`s first matches.


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