TAIPEI - The indictment on embezzlement charges of former Taiwan president Lee Teng-hui will add another layer of uncertainty to elections next year that Beijing will be watching closely.
Lee, hated by China for his pro-independence views, and aide Liu Tai-ying were accused on Thursday of embezzling $7.8 million in national security funds when Lee was in office from 1988 to 2000, according to a statement from prosecutors.
Lee's lawyer has denied the charges.
The indictment comes seven months before a presidential election that is widely seen as a referendum on the future of the island's relations with China, which have improved rapidly since Ma Ying-jeou became president in 2008.
China and Taiwan have been ruled separately since defeated Nationalist forces fled to the island at the end of a civil war with the Communists in 1949. China has never renounced the use of force to bring democratic Taiwan under its control.