TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwan's former president Chen Shui-bian was arrested on Tuesday as prosecutors sought to detain him in connection with a long-running corruption probe, officials said. Chen is accused of money laundering, embezzling government funds, taking bribes and forging documents, a spokesman for the investigation said. A defiant Chen put his handcuffed hands in the air as he stepped out of the prosecutor's office and shouted "political persecution" before getting into a waiting car. He was due to appear in court at 1200 GMT. If the prosecutors' demand is met, Chen would become the first former Taiwanese president to be formally detained, following a graft scandal that has gripped the island for months. Meanwhile, a court hearing to decide if Taiwan's former president Chen Shui-bian should be formally detained was suspended Tuesday after he demanded to be taken to hospital, a legislator said. "The former president told the judges that he was pushed from behind while being escorted out of the prosecutors' office, and demanded that he be sent to the National Taiwan University Hospital to examine his injuries," opposition lawmaker Lai Ching-teh told reporters. "The judges have taken seriously the former president's complaints and decided to suspend the hearing," Lai said. The former president, who retired in May after eight years in power, is under investigation for allegedly embezzling 14.8 million Taiwan dollars (480,500 US) from the government. Chen was earlier Tuesday questioned by prosecutors investigating a money-laundering scandal involving both him and his wife. Under interrogation Tuesday, Chen chose not to answer some questions, while dozens of supporters protested outside the investigators' office. He earlier accused the China-friendly Kuomintang (KMT) government of persecuting him under pressure from Beijing, which considers Taiwan a renegade province to be reunified with China, by force if necessary. "The KMT and the Chinese Communist Party see me as their number one prisoner as I am the biggest stone blocking their way to reunification," pro-independence Chen told reporters. He accused his successor, Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou, of pursuing a political agenda and punishing him for violent demonstrations during a visit by Beijing's top envoy to the island last week. The Chinese envoy, "Chen Yunlin, had a bad time in Taiwan... so Ma Ying-jeou wants to put me in jail as a sacrifice to appease China. I am very honoured and proud to play such a role," the former president said. Chen's opposition Democratic Progressive Party immediately cried foul after Tuesday's arrest, saying it was politically motivated. "This political manipulation is aimed at destroying the DPP and insulting a former leader by handcuffing him. We assure the public that the DPP will not be defeated," said lawmaker Lee Chun-yee. Kuomintang lawmaker Lee Ching-hua hailed the move as "belated justice." Political analyst Liao Dai-chi said Chen's arrest was likely to heighten divisions between the opposing political camps. "I think the DPP will take to the streets frequently in the foreseeable future to protest what it calls the political persecution of Chen in order to win public sympathy," said Liao of the National Sun Yat-sen University. Chen has previously admitted using false receipts to claim money from the state, but insisted those funds were used for "secret diplomatic missions" " not his personal benefit. The ex-leader, his wife, son, daughter-in-law, and brother-in-law have all been named as defendants in a separate money laundering case. Taiwanese prosecutors say 21 million US dollars was sent to Swiss bank accounts belonging to Chen's daughter-in-law in 2007. The funds have since been frozen. Chen has admitted his wife wired 20 million US dollars abroad from past campaign funds but said she did so without his knowledge. He denies laundering money.