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MOJ to deal with ex-president Chen Shui-bian's parole swiftly

MOJ to deal with ex-president Chen Shui-bian's parole swiftly

Taipei, Dec. 31 (CNA) The Ministry of Justice said Wednesday it will deal with the medical parole of former president Chen Shui-bian swiftly but would not confirm reports that he will be granted parole and released from Taichung Prison before the arrival of the new year. Speaking on the sidelines of a legislative hearing, Deputy Justice Minister Wu Chen-huan said granting medical parole needs to follow set procedures. The assessment of Chen's medical condition by a team of doctors has to be sent to the prison, which then must report it to the ministry's Agency of Corrections for approval, Wu noted. He said the agency will deal with it swiftly given public concerns over the issue, but asked if Chen will be able to be released from prison and return home Wednesday night, he replied "I cannot predict that." Chen Chi-chung, son of the former president, said Wednesday related agencies have not informed the family if his father could be granted medical parole on the final day of 2014. Another deputy justice minister, Chen Ming-tang, said Taichung Prison was still busy Wednesday reviewing an assessment of Chen Shui-bian's condition sent by the 15-member medical team a day earlier. The report recommended that the former president be granted medical parole based on professional and humane considerations. The prison has yet to send its opinion to the Agency of Corrections for reconsideration, Chen Ming-tang said, adding that he could not predict when the former president will be released. If the agency gives a green light, related documents will be sent back to Taichung Prison, which will contact the family and the Taichung District Prosecutors Office, with the latter setting bail conditions. Though details of how medical parole would work remain unclear, Taichung Veterans General Hospital Superintendent Lee San-kan said Wednesday that if the former president is released, he will be taken care of by a team other than the one that assessed his condition. Meanwhile, former Vice President Annette Lu, who began a hunger strike Sunday afternoon to push for Chen's release at 228 Peace Memorial Park in Taipei, arrived at Taichung Prison at 9:15 a.m. Wednesday morning to learn about the situation. Lu, who teamed up with Chen from 2000-2008, said earlier that if Chen was still not released Wednesday, she would stage a sit-in at the Presidential Office. The former president was sentenced to 20 years in prison and fined NT$250 million (US$8.01 million) for a series of corruption cases shortly after his second term ended in 2008. 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. (By Wen Kuei-hsiang, Page Tsai, Liao Jen-kai and Lilian Wu)