Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) made his first court appearance yesterday since reports emerged on Tuesday that he has attempted suicide three times since first being taken into custody in late 2008.
Chen, who is serving a 17-and-a-half-year sentence on corruption charges, arrived at the Taiwan High Court to the cheers of around 20 of his supporters. He looked tired and ill.
Chen was there to appeal a district court decision that found him guilty of pressuring his close aide Lin Teh-hsun (林德訓) to give false testimony to investigators looking into irregularities in his administration of special state affairs funds during his tenure as president between 2000 and 2008.
During the hearing, the former president reiterated his innocence and made his statements standing up, even though the judges gave him the option to sit down.
“I did not direct anyone to provide false testimony,” Chen said.
Saying that he had been wrongfully accused by prosecutors whose sole purpose was to humiliate him, Chen expressed the hope that the court would re-examine the case in detail and prove his innocence.
“It has not been easy for me to stay alive until today,” Chen said at the end of the hearing, adding that anyone who had been subjected to the humiliation he experienced would have thought about death.
The court is scheduled to make a ruling on the case on Aug. 17.
Before the hearing, Chen’s lawyer, Shih Yi-lin (石宜琳), told the press that Chen has been talking off-topic and showing signs of anxiety lately. Shih asked the judges to finish the hearing by noon because a psychiatrist was scheduled to visit Chen later that day.
According to the Ministry of Justice, a doctor from the psychiatry department at Chang Gung Hospital in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Linkou District (林口) visited the Taipei Prison yesterday afternoon to check Chen’s health.