Taipei Prison yesterday announced it would grant former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) permission to attend his mother-in-law’s funeral on Jan. 10, but said that Chen, who is serving a 17-and-a-half-year sentence for corruption, would wear handcuffs and leg shackles and be barred from granting interviews with the media.
Taipei Prison spokesperson Su Kun-ming (蘇坤銘) told a press conference that according to regulations, detainees can apply to leave the prison to pay their last respects at one event, but they must be accompanied by guards and return to the prison within 24 hours. The regulation applies to an inmate’s immediate family, as well as his or her spouse’s immediate family.
Wu Wang Hsia (吳王霞), the mother of Chen’s wife, Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍), passed away at the age of 85 on Saturday at Sin-Lau Medical Foundation in Madou (麻豆), Greater Tainan.
Deputy Minister of Justice Chen Shou-huang (陳守煌) said at a separate setting that the ministry would grant Chen’s application on compassionate grounds.
As per regulations, the former president will not be allowed to have his restraints removed, Chen Shou-huang said.
Chen Shui-bian will be allowed to stay at the service for no more than 30 minutes.
Taipei City Councilor Chiang Chih-ming (江志銘) said that after visiting Chen Shui-bian yesterday, he has begun to prepare the required documents for the leave application, which will be submitted today.
Chen Chih-chung (陳致中) and Chen Hsin-yu (陳幸妤), the former president’s son and daughter, -expressed their desire for their father to be released during a press conference yesterday morning at the campaign headquarters of Chen Chih-chung, who is running as an independent candidate in the Greater Kaohsiung legislative election.
During the press conference, Chen Hsing-yu read a letter from her father.
In the statement, the former president reiterated his endorsement of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and accused the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) of trying to disparage Tsai in a recent campaign.
Chen Shui-bian condemned “the KMT’s political oppression of his family” and appealed to voters to support his son, saying that Chen Chih-chung would be a good legislator and strong advocate for Taiwanese, as well as the DPP’s partner in the legislature.
The DPP played down the potential impact of Chen’s one-day release on the Jan. 14 presidential and legislative elections, with party spokesperson Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) saying the DPP hoped Chen’s request would be granted.
Tsai told reporters in the afternoon that she had designated her running mate, DPP Secretary--General Su Jia-chuyan (蘇嘉全), as the party’s representative to attend Wu Wang Hsia’s memorial service and she hoped that the incident would not be viewed as a campaign issue. Tsai is not expected to attend the service.
At a different setting, DPP Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said the former president should not be made to wear handcuffs and shackles at the funeral.
Asked whether the chances of Kuo Wen-cheng (郭玟成), the DPP candidate from Chen Shui-bian’s home district, would be hurt by the former president’s release, Tsai Huang-liang said he did not think that would be the case.
Controversy surrounding the former president has existed for more than three years and different groups of people have fixed opinions on the case, he said, adding that it would not have an impact on the election results.