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Taiwan Court Orders Detention of Ex-President

A judge in Taiwan has ordered Chen Shui-bian jailed while money-laundering charges against him are investigated. The former president, who says he is the victim of political persecution, denies any wrongdoing. Thibault Worth reports from Taipei.

The Taipei District Court judge sent Mr. Chen to a detention center after hours of interrogation that stretched until early Wednesday morning.

After he complained of injuries late Tuesday night, questioning was postponed to allow the ex-president to go to the hospital.

Mr. Chen, who says police roughed him up earlier in the day, returned to the courthouse after midnight with a diagnosis of minor muscle tears.

The former president is being investigated over allegations of graft, bribery, illegal possession of state assets and other offenses.

Taiwan news media report that he is suspected of wiring over 30 million U.S. dollars to overseas bank accounts while serving as president. Members of his family also are being investigated.

Mr. Chen says he is being harassed because he opposes efforts by his successor, Ma Ying-jeou, to improve ties with mainland China.

Mr. Chen says Mr. Ma wants to put him in jail as a sacrifice to appease China. He declares he is "very honored and proud" to play such a role.

As president, Mr. Chen frequently provoked Chinese leaders with his desire to see Taiwan fully independent of mainland China. The two split in 1949 after Nationalist forces fled to the island when they lost a civil war to the communist army.

China claims the island as part of its territory and has threatened to invade should its leaders formally declare independence.

President Ma has worked swiftly to improve relations with China. Some Taiwanese, however, fear his policies will compromise the island's sovereignty and his opponents last week accused him of ordering police to crack down on anti-China demonstrations.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets during a visit by a Chinese official who signed historic transportation and trade pacts with Taiwan.

Fan Liqing, a spokeswoman for Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office, rejects Mr. Chen's allegation that the mainland government is involved in his arrest.

Fan says Mr. Chen is making up rumors. She says she everyone clearly knows why he said what he said.

President Ma also denied Mr. Chen's allegation, saying he takes no pleasure in seeing Mr. Chen arrested.