The Ministry of Justice yesterday said it would allow former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to pay his last respects to his deceased mother-in-law tomorrow and that Chen would not be forced to wear restraints during the ceremony.
Chen will be allowed to pay tribute to Wu Wang Hsia (吳王霞), who died on Dec. 31, for one hour, the ministry said, adding that -Taipei Prison staffers and local police would be responsible for Chen’s security.
Earlier yesterday, in response to press queries on whether Chen would be made to wear restraints during the ceremony, Minister of Justice Tseng Yung-fu (曾勇夫) said: “[We] would not disappoint [Chen’s] family.”
“As a former president, Chen’s actions are not only the focus of the nation, but his moves are also watched by the world. It would be inappropriate if Chen were made to wear restraints during the event,” Tseng said.
“If the former head of state were to be forced to walk and pay his respects to his deceased family [member] in leg shackles, it would create a bad impression of the country,” Tseng said.
The ministry announced its plan after Taipei City Councilor Chiang Chih-ming (江志銘) yesterday filed an application on behalf of the Wu family seeking permission to allow Chen, who is serving a 17-and-a-half-year sentence for corruption, to take a one-day funeral leave either tomorrow or on Tuesday.
“The family hoped that Chen would be granted a 24-hour release on Jan. 10, the day of the funeral, or the touqi (頭七) on Jan. 6, which marks the first seven days after death,” Chiang said.
The family would prefer that Chen be allowed to attend the family funeral in Sinying District (新營), Greater Tainan, on Tuesday, which would better suit Taiwanese traditions, he said.
The Wu family will cover all transportation costs for Chen and the guards who will be escorting him to Greater Tainan from Taoyuan, Chiang said, adding that the Wu family had hoped Chen would be able to take the High Speed Rail, but the proposition was overruled by Taipei Prison, citing security concerns.
Chiang said he had signed a pledge to the Taipei Prison promising to take Chen back to the prison after the memorial service and not to let him escape.