Chen Shui-bian gets OK for outside treatment

The China Post news staff and CNA

The China Post news staff and CNA–The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) has approved former President Chen Shui-bian’s request for medical treatment outside prison, Vice Minister of Justice Wu Chen-huan (吳陳鐶) said yesterday evening. The MOJ’s decision was based on the evaluation of medical experts, Wu said without further specification. According to Wu, Minister of Justice Tseng Yung-fu (曾勇夫) received reports of Chen’s blood and excrement examinations showing the former president to be in relatively sound health. Tseng, however, required more comprehensive check-ups on Chen’s condition, Wu explained, adding that Tseng denied claiming Chen to be in no danger of colon cancer.

Earlier Tseng said that the Taipei Prison will have physicians conduct further examinations on Chen to see if there is a need to take him out of prison for medical attention.

Tseng said the prison is paying great attention to Chen’s condition, which he said appears to be caused by a cold and constipation.

Physicians have examined Chen three times and stool tests show normal results, according to Tseng.

The prison will continue to monitor the former president’s health and have doctors conduct a more detailed examination, the minister said.

Chen’s wife, Wu Shu-jen, requested that the prison take her husband out of prison for medical attention after visiting him at the prison a day earlier.

According to Wu, Chen looked very tired and had a swollen stomach. She said her husband should be given a comprehensive checkup in light of a family history of liver cancer.

She also threatened to mobilize Chen’s supporters in southern Taiwan to stage a protest in Taipei if the prison fails to accede to her demands.

Former Vice President Annette Lu also went to see Chen at the prison Friday. She told reporters afterward that Chen looked “very sick, with a dark complexion and a skinny body.”

According to Lu, Chen also had difficulty walking and that during a handshake, his hand felt “as cold as ice.”

Expressing concern for Chen’s condition, opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesman Lo Chih-cheng urged the Taipei Prison to consider allowing him to have medical treatment outside the prison based on “humanitarian principles” and Chen’s status as a former president.

Former Premier Frank Hsieh, also of the DPP, wrote on his Facebook page that “no political considerations should be involved” when authorities are dealing with the matter.

He warned that if a delay in action leads to a “life-threatening” situation, it would be “tantamount to murder,” which could deepen social confrontation.

Chen is serving a 17.5 year-prison term for corruption during his tenure in office.