Doctors advise Taiwan's first lady not to attend graft trial hearing

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 December, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 22 December, 2006, 12:00am

The corruption trial of Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian's ailing wife, Wu Shu-chen, is likely to be held without her today as her doctors have advised her against attending.

'Because of her condition, the hospital has advised that she continue to stay in hospital to recover,' said Lin He-hsiung, spokesman of the National Taiwan University Hospital, in Taipei yesterday.

Wu, paralysed from the waist down after a car accident two decades ago, collapsed last Friday as she appeared in court for the first time over her alleged embezzlement of NT$14.8 million (HK$3.5 million) in state funds in the past four years.

Wu, who became the first president's wife to stand trial for corruption, was later rushed to hospital for emergency treatment for extremely low blood pressure and a slow heart beat. Doctors said she needed to recuperate in hospital.

Prosecutors charged the first lady in November with corruption and document forgery for using receipts provided by others to claim for the spent funds which the president claimed were for secret diplomatic missions.

The prosecutors, who had found that Mr Chen had used part of the funds to buy a diamond ring for Wu, said they had enough evidence to place similar charges against Mr Chen, but delayed action due to his immunity.

Dr Lin said because Wu was paralysed from the waist down, her blood pressure was often low and if made to sit too long she could faint.

There have been arguments in the past week over whether the first lady should return to trial after she collapsed during her first court appearance.

Lawmakers of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have criticised court officials for being 'inhuman' by making the first lady stand trial despite her condition.

But opposition lawmakers have cried foul, saying everybody is equal before the law.