Wu Shu-chen, wife of Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian, passed out during the
first session of her embezzlement and forgery trial yesterday, throwing into
chaos the court proceedings that could eventually threaten her husband's hold on
Wu collapsed shortly after pleading not guilty to charges that she and three
aides to Chen skimmed NT$14.8 million (US$450,000) from a special office fund
used to sustain Taiwanese diplomatic activities abroad.
When she and the aides were indicted on November 3, prosecutors said Chen
also could be indicted when his immunity lapses after he leaves office.
Two days later, Chen proclaimed his innocence and that of his wife, and told
an island-wide television audience he would step down if she was found guilty.
Wu collapsed during a recess in the trial proceedings, held on the second
floor of Taipei District Court.
Television pictures showed Wu being carried out of the court by an
unidentified woman and loaded into an ambulance. Wu's eyes were closed and she
did not appear to be moving.
A doctor at National Taiwan University Hospital said Wu was suffering from
low temperature and slow heartbeat, but her condition was not serious.
"We gave her some medicine, and her situation improved," Dr Lin Ho-hsiung
said. "She is now under close observation. Her temperature and heartbeat are
While the legal proceedings against the three Chen aides continued, Taipei
District Court spokesman Liu Song-kao said the court would have to postpone the
case against Wu if she was unable to attend future sessions.
Wu arrived at the court at 9:25am and did not answer questions from the media
about the case.
People began lining outside the court early in the morning to secure one of
the few public seats at the trial.
Anti-Chen demonstrators also gathered near the court.
On Wednesday a Taipei judge sentenced Chen Che-nan, a former Chen aide, to 12
years in prison for accepting bribes from a businessman to help him solve legal