Chen Shui-bian medical parole pending as Lu continues hunger strike

Chen Shui-bian medical parole pending as Lu continues hunger strike

Former Vice President Annette Lu continued her hunger strike Sunday on its second day, a move aimed at putting pressure on the Ma Ying-jeou administration to grant a medical parole to former President Chen Shui-bian. Lu again took the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) to task for what she called malicious delays in acting on an application, saying the ministry "needs to be fast, why can’t they make a decision tonight?"

Lu is holding her hunger strike in front of the National Taiwan Museum in Taipei’s 228 Memorial Park. She spoke to reporters Monday, calling on the government to allow former President Chen to receive adequate medical care.

Justice Minister Luo Ying-shay said Monday that she respects the opinion of the expanded medical verification group, which met Monday afternoon to discuss their findings on Chen’s condition and the need for granting a medical parole to allow access to medical care outside the prison system.

Luo pointed out that acting on a medical parole involves several steps. To begin with, the medical verification team must present its report on Chen’s mental and physical condition. Once that is received, if the team recommends a medical parole the MOJ must still gain approval at several levels in Taichung Prison and the Department of Corrections and then must consult with prosecutors on a request for bail. Given the number of steps involved, said Luo, it difficult to say whether a request for medical parole could be completed before New Year's Day, January 1.

Lu complained that she had announced early in December that she might go on a hunger strike, and the medical verification group should have been set up a long time ago. She said a formal application for medical parole was filed December 10 but the MOJ has procrastinated at every step on the way. The medical team was not set up until December 22, and the MOJ appears to be intentionally dragging things out, she said.

Lu said at this rate the decision on a medical parole could be extended all the way to the Lunar New Year, which would show what a farce the MOJ is as far as administrative efficiency is concerned.

Lu also brushed off comments by former President Lee Teng-hui, who said last week that the medical parole issue should be handled according to the law. She scoffed at Lee’s remarks, saying Lee had probably never even read the relevant laws in this case, in particular Article 58 of the Criminal Law. If things were being handled according to the law, she said, Chen should have been released on medical parole a long time ago.

Chen Shui-bian's son Chen Chih-chung said Sunday that he hopes the medical verification team will be able to present its report soon and Annette Lu will be able to suspend her hunger strike.

Justice Minister Luo was far less sympathetic, saying Lu’s hunger strike was her personal action. "This decision was her own doing,” said Luo, “we have nothing to do with her."

Luo reiterated her earlier announcement that the maximum duration of medical parole is a month, and if the inmate’s condition has not improved it may be extended by one to three additional months. She noted that prison doctors regularly check the condition of inmates on medical parole, and if they show improvement they may be returned to prison regardless of any provisions regarding medical parole.

Luo emphasized that she respects the professional judgment of the medical team, but the Ministry of Justice itself has set no timetable regarding the possibility of medical parole for Chen Shui-bian.

Updated : 2021-03-06 01:39 GMT+08:00