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MOJ says ex-president unlikely to leave prison Tuesday

MOJ says ex-president unlikely to leave prison Tuesday

Taipei, Dec. 30 (CNA) Former President Chen Shui-bian will not be able to leave prison on Tuesday, the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) said, amid reports that he will soon be granted medical parole and released from Taichung Prison. According to reports on the front pages of major newspapers, the 15-member medical team assessing Chen's condition met on Monday and unanimously recommended that he be granted medical parole because they felt his medical problems could not be properly treated in jail. The papers also said Chen is expected to be released from jail within two days. Vice Justice Minister Chen Ming-tang said the medical team has made an initial recommendation, but the report being compiled by Taichung Veterans General Hospital has yet to be sent to Taichung Prison, which will assess the situation and submit a proposal to the ministry's Agency of Corrections for approval. If the agency grants medical parole, related documents will be sent to the Taichung District Prosecutors Office for its approval, as is the case for all inmates seeking parole. The ministry has not set a timetable for the process to be completed, Chen Ming-tang said. Asked if that meant that Chen Shui-bian will not return home Tuesday or before New Year's Day, he said that "today is impossible" under the current circumstances. Chen Ming-tang said that if the former president is granted medical parole, the parole period will be limited to one month. When the month is about to come to an end, the prison will dispatch people to check on his condition. If he is still not stable, the ministry will assess whether to extend the medical parole period by between one and three months. Asked if Chen Shui-bian can give a speech or stump for others while on medical parole, Chen Ming-tang said inmates are not supposed to engage in activities not related to their treatment, and their parole could be revoked if they violate the regulations. Opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesman Huang Di-ying said the medical team has reached a consensus that Chen should be granted medical parole and he urged the Ministry of Justice to respect it and "not to use red tape to postpone it." Former Vice President Annette Lu, who began a hunger strike Sunday afternoon to push for Chen's release, said that if Chen is still not released by Wednesday, she will stage a sit-in at the Presidential Office. According to DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling, who visited Chen Shui-bian at Taichung Prison Tuesday, the former president was restless because he feared that there could still be changes before the assessment report is sent to the Justice Ministry. A group of Chen's supporters has gathered outside Taichung Prison to wait for Chen's reported impending release. In office from 2000 to 2008, Chen was sentenced to 20 years in prison and fined NT$250 million (US$8.01 million) after his second term ended amid a series of corruption cases. He began serving his sentence on Nov. 11, 2010, but he had been detained for nearly two years prior to that while prosecutors were investigating and prosecuting his cases. Among the conditions Chen is said to be suffering from are depression, brain degeneration, trembling hands and urinary incontinence. Several of the doctors who have examined him over the years have recommended that he be released on medical parole (By Page Tsai, Sophia Yeh,, Y. F. Low and Lilian Wu)


Updated : 2021-01-18 11:57 GMT+08:00