Doctors found another small tumor on former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) prostate yesterday after he was granted a temporary release from prison for follow-up medical checkups in a hospital.
Chen was transported from Taipei Prison to Taoyuan General Hospital at about 6am.
Dozens of Chen supporters shouted: “A-bian [阿扁, Chen Shui-bian’s nickname] is not guilty, release A-bian” as he arrived in the hospital.
After the checkups, Chen returned to the prison at 8:15am.
Chen’s office secretary, Chiang Chih-ming (江志銘), told reporters at the hospital that while doctors had found a small tumor — measuring about 1cm — on Chen’s prostate in an initial checkup on March 7, another small tumor was found yesterday, adding that the first had become bigger.
Chiang said the doctors have decided to take Chen off his heart medication for 10 days, after which he will undergo a biopsy to determine whether the tumors are malignant.
Chen’s son, Chen Chih-chung (陳致中), and daughter, Chen Hsin-yu (陳幸妤), went to the hospital, but they were barred from accompanying their father during the medical exam.
Chen Chih-chung said his father was suffering from chest pain and had trouble breathing, adding that his heart and lung problems were becoming more serious.
“He has trouble breathing even when he’s simply sitting in a wheelchair. The doctors said such a condition was very rare,” he said.
Chen Chih-chung again appealed to the authorities to grant his father leave from prison to receive medical treatment because his father was suffering respiratory failure.
The doctors found Chen Shui-bian was suffering from acute coronary syndrome — reduced blood flow to the heart — in the checkup on March 7 and arranged for him to undergo a cardiac catheterization. Chen remained hospitalized from March 7 to 13.
Chen Shui-bian is serving a 17-and-a-half-year prison term on corruption charges.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday also repeated its call for the former president to be released for medical treatment.
“Former president Chen should be immediately granted a release for medical treatment on humanitarian grounds,” spokesperson Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) said.
Chen Shui-bian’s judicial rights and medical rights have always ranked high on the priorities of the DPP’s Central Standing Committee and its acting chairperson Chen Chu (陳菊), he said.
The DPP’s position on the issue has been consistent, Lin said.
“The DPP maintains that Chen should be released for medical treatment. In terms of a presidential -pardon, that would be the president’s prerogative. We hope President Ma [Ying-jeou (馬英九)] will approach the issue with the mindset of a national leader,” Lin said.
The amnesty issue has been a hot topic in the DPP’s chairperson election campaign, with former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) the only candidate holding the same position as the party.
Former DPP chairperson Hsu Hsin-liang (許信良), former vice premier Wu Rong-i (吳榮義), former Tainan County commissioner Su Huan-chih (蘇煥智) and former DPP lawmaker Chai Trong-rong (蔡同榮) have all called for a presidential pardon for Chen.
The four candidates attended a rally for Chen’s amnesty in Madou District (麻豆), Greater Tainan, on Saturday.
The Ministry of Justice said last weekend that Chen could be granted a medical release only if his condition could not be adequately treated in prison.