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Chao Chien-ming indicted, released on NT$10 mil. bail

President Chen Shui-bian's son-in-law, Chao Chien-ming, was indicted yesterday on charges of insider trading in a corruption scandal that has rocked the government and tarnished the public image of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Chao, however, was released later in the day on NT$10 million bail. Two other defendants in the case were freed on NT$5 million bail.

The trio are banned from leaving the island. The decisions were made by a court panel consisting of several judges who deliberated on the case for 1.5 hours. The two other suspects are Su Teh-chien, chairman of Taiwan Development Stocks Corp., and Yu Shih-yi, general manager of the Kuan-Pin Co.

Prosecutors at the Taipei Prosecutors' Office are seeking an eight-year jail term for Chao, a 34-year-old orthopedist at National Taiwan University Hospital.

Chao was detained in May on suspicion of insider trading and taking bribes from business people.

Among the other defendants named in the case were Chao's father Chao Yu-chu, who faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of insider trading and breach of trust.

Other defendants included Chieh Shui-mien, Chao Chien-hsun and Cheng Ya-ling, who are Chao Chien-ming's mother, brother and sister-in-law respectively, as well as Su and Yu. The three relatives of Chao were freed from indictment for lack of evidence. After his release on bail, Chao immediately thanked the prosecutors and investigators for their speedy wrapping-up of the case.

He than took several bows to apologize to the nation, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, President Chen Shui-bian, the first lady and his own wife Chen Hsin-yu and sons for the inconveniences caused by the case.

Yet Chao vowed again that he did nothing wrong and broke no rules. Two other defendants also stressed that they did not commit any crimes.

A car took Chao to the National Taiwan University Hospital for cleaning up before he went home, where his mother had been waiting.

It remained unknown if Chao will go to the presidential residence to join his wife and children today. Chao's wife and children have been staying with the president and the first lady while Chao was in detention.

First lady Wu Shu-chen is celebrating her 54th birthday today.

Spokesman of the Executive Yuan (Cabinet) Cheng Wen-tsan and the chief convener of the DPP's caucus in the Legislative Yuan Ko Chien-ming both said that they respected the prosecution's decisions in the Chao Chien-ming case.

"The DPP has been badly hurt by the case," said Chen Ching-chun, chief clerical worker of the DPP caucus in the Legislature. "The clean image of the party has been questioned."

DPP-affiliated public figures should be alert and should behave prudently, Chen added.

The case against Chao is among a series of high-profile corruption charges involving Chen's family and inner circle.

Last week, prosecutors indicted former senior Chen adviser Chen Che-nan on insider trading charges and allegations that he took bribes from a businessman to help settle his legal problems.

d And government investigators are also probing opposition charges that Chen's wife, Wu Shu-chen, received free gift certificates from the management of Sogo Department Store and may have played a role in its takeover by a businessman.

The spate of alleged scandals have led to a campaign by the opposition to remove Chen from office by introducing a recall motion in the Legislature last month.

The president survived the motion, which failed to receive the support of two thirds of the Legislature that it needed for a national referendum by the people.

The opposition has held several demonstrations to put pressure on the president.

Chen has apologized for his son-in-law's behavior but refused to step down despite the mass protests. The scandals, however, have had an impact on his approval ratings, which have fallen below 20 percent in most polls.

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