Greater Kaohsiung prosecutors yesterday said they had no position on whether former first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) should serve a lengthy jail sentence until she reports to Taichung Prison’s Pei Teh Hospital on Friday to undergo an evaluation, which will determine if she is fit enough to serve her term.
Wu’s son, Chen Chih-chung (陳致中), said he hoped doctors at the hospital would visit Wu in Greater Kaohsiung to assess her health rather than force her to travel to Greater Taichung.
Chen said his family was deeply worried because his mother, who is paralyzed from the waist down, cannot care for herself.
Following legal procedures, Wu, who lives in Greater Kao-hsiung, will be driven by ambulance to the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors’ Office, from where prosecutors will accompany her to Pei Teh Hospital.
If it is determined that the former first lady is well enough to serve time, she would begin serving her sentence immediately after the evaluation. Otherwise, she would be sent back home until it is determined when she should start serving her sentence.
Prosecutor General Huang Shih-ming (黃世銘) said the exam at Pei Teh Hospital was the only way to determine whether she had to begin her prison term immediately, adding that according to the law, those convicted of crime are not allowed to serve their jail term at home.
The Supreme Court in November ruled that Wu and her husband, former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), should serve a total of 19 years in jail for taking bribes during his term as president.
Chen Shui-bian, who had been held at a detention center since late 2008, was moved to Taipei Prison in Taoyuan County on Dec. 2 to begin serving his sentence.
Meanwhile, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers said they opposed Wu’s prison sentence, adding that they were not asking for “special treatment,” but saying that the law had special provisions for individuals with health problems like Wu.
During a press conference, DPP lawmakers — including several with close ties to the former first family — cited statistics showing that over the past year, prison officials had refused to take four prisoners into custody for health reasons.
One of them, Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) said, had a condition similar to Wu, including cervical spine injuries and was unable to take care of himself without assistance.
Wu was paralyzed and became wheelchair-bound after being repeatedly run over during a political event for her husband in 1985.
“The government should not make a special case for Wu just because she is a member of the Chen family,” Gao said, adding however: “Her condition is just not suited for prison.”