Wed, May 13, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Chen returns to detention center

By Shelley Huang and Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

A Taipei resident surnamed Cheng enters the fourth day of his hunger strike outside the Taipei Detention Center yesterday. Cheng is fasting in sympathy for former president Chen Shui-bian, who is on trial on embezzlement and other charges and said he will refuse food until the Democratic Progressive Party’s demonstration on Sunday.


Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) returned to the Taipei Detention Center yesterday morning after spending three days in the hospital.

TV footage showed Chen being wheeled out of the Banciao branch of Taipei County Hospital covered with a blanket and wearing a facemask.

He arrived at the detention center at about 8:15am.

Chen signed a disclaimer after midnight yesterday agreeing to leave the hospital and return to the detention center, Taipei Detention Center Deputy Director Lee Ta-chu (李大竹) said.

“[Chen] still refuses to eat anything, but he drank some water,” Lee said.

Chen has been receiving treatment from doctors at the detention center because he is coughing and has phlegm in his left lung, he said.

The former president has been on hunger strike since Thursday after he returned to the Taipei Detention Center following his detention hearing. He appeared weak in court and later that day issued a statement saying he would not appeal any verdict in the case, immediately dismiss his attorneys and stop calling witnesses.

He was hospitalized on Saturday with dehydration.

The hospital performed various examinations, including a blood test, an x-ray, an electrocardiogram and an ultrasound.

On Monday, the Taipei District Court ruled that Chen would remain in detention, citing fears he would collude with witnesses or abscond.

The court also canceled a court date Chen had yesterday because of his poor physical condition.

The court date had been scheduled to summon Su Chih-cheng (蘇志誠), a top aide to former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), and former Presidential Office deputy secretary-general Ma Yung-cheng (馬永成) in the trial over Chen’s alleged embezzlement of the presidential “state affairs” fund.

Chen has said he will not eat or drink until Sunday to show his support for the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) rally scheduled for that day to protest against the government’s China-leaning policies.

Chen has been on two hunger strikes since his incarceration, but ended them after pressure from his family.

Meanwhile, DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday the extension of Chen’s detention was a political decision that was manipulated by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government.

“We did not see proper legal procedure in the ruling to extend Chen’s detention. This is a political decision that damages the credibility and independence of Taiwan’s judiciary, and it is a warning to Taiwan’s society,” Tsai told reporters yesterday.

DPP Spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) said the court had detained Chen for five months and that the party and the public believed the detention was a “punishment detention” meant to humiliate his supporters.

DPP caucus whip Kao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) said the court made up its mind to detain Chen and then fabricated reasons for his custody.

“The court wants to detain the sick Chen until he dies,” Kao said.

Former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) of the DPP said yesterday that because Chen is not in good health, he would not abscond if he were free and the court should release him.

KMT legislators lauded the court’s decision to extend Chen’s detention. KMT Legislator Lee Ching-hua (李慶華) gave Presiding Judge Tsai Shou-hsun (蔡守訓) a thumbs up for “standing up to pressure from the DPP.”

Lee urged Chen to “learn how historical figure [Chinese poet and minister] Qu Yuan (屈原) dedicated himself to his nation and people” now that Chen has to spend the Dragon Boat Festival inside the detention center. The festival is partly held in commemoration of Qu.

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