Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) talked about his possible death in prison and criticized regulations on medical parole in his weekly column published yesterday.
“It would not be a surprise if the headline ‘Chen Shui-bian dies in prison’ appears on every media outlet someday,” Chen, who is serving a 17-and-a-half-year sentence for corruption, wrote in his weekly column, titled “Death of a president,” for the Chinese-language weekly Next Magazine.
Chen said his deteriorating health had been confirmed by several physicians, who had visited him in prison and said Chen’s life “could be in danger anytime.”
While the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has called for Chen’s release for medical treatment, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) did not address the issue until Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) made the same appeal last week.
Ma rejected Hau’s suggestion in an interview with the Central News Agency on Monday, saying that a medical parole would “actually mean [Chen] being released from prison.”
Chen wrote that an executive order from the Ministry of Justice “basically allows a release for medical treatment only for dying inmates, including those who are terminally ill cancer patients.”
“A release under that condition would not be for seeking medical treatment, but for waiting to die,” he wrote.
“[My] dying in prison would be a gift from God and my destiny,” he added.
The DPP has in the past few days accused Ma of “distorting the law.”
“The law clearly stipulates that a prisoner has to return to prison after receiving appropriate medical care and that the time spent out of the prison counts against his prison term,” DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said yesterday in Yilan County’s Jiaosi Township (礁溪).
“It is strange that Ma and I went to the same school, read the same law textbooks and studied under the same professors and yet he comes up with these strange opinions,” said Su, who, like Ma, graduated from National Taiwan University with a law degree.
Also speaking in Yilan, former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said the Ministry of Justice “should act like a professional instead of catering to what the president says and politicizing a legal issue.”
Hsieh said he supported the release of Chen because it would “fit the general atmosphere in society.”
“Any legal expert should know that the interpretation and application of law should meet society’s expectation — and what society expects is that legal practitioners should defend social values and consciousness,” former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said in a message on her Facebook page yesterday.
“The interpretation and manipulation of law as a tool for personal benefit and political agenda would be a bad example,” she wrote.