Taiwan's jailed ex-leader cleared in diplomatic case

TAIPEI, January 18, 2011 (AFP) - Taiwan's high court on Tuesday upheld a previous ruling that cleared jailed ex-leader Chen Shui-bian of alleged misuse of diplomatic funds.

Chen, who served as president between 2000 and 2008, was accused of embezzling $330,000 from the foreign ministry during 11 official overseas trips while in office and giving the money to his son for personal use.

A district court cleared him last year due to insufficient evidence, and the high court decided to reject an appeal by prosecutors, a court official said.

This was a rare legal victory for the embattled ex-leader, who is currently serving a term of 17 years and six months for two convictions of bribery, with more trials pending on other charges.

Chen insists that the legal action against him is a vendetta carried out by Taiwan's Beijing-friendly government in retaliation for his pro-independence stance while in power.