Imprisoned former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who has been hospitalized since Sept. 21, will remain in Taipei Veterans General Hospital for the time being, the Ministry of Justice said.
Following discussions between the Agency of Corrections and Taipei Prison, it was decided that Chen should remain in hospital, where he is being treated for severe depression and other health problems, Vice Minister of Justice Chen Ming-tang (陳明堂) said on Wednesday.
The question of whether the former president would return to Taipei Prison before the Lunar New Year holiday begins on Feb. 10 is under consideration, the vice minister said in response to reporters’ questions.
“We have no timeframe for his discharge from hospital,” Chen Ming-tang said, adding that it would depend on the professional assessment of the hospital. In a report to the ministry’s Agency of Corrections last month, the hospital said the former president was showing improvement in terms of his depression.
However, there are some lingering symptoms and he should continue to take medication, receive occupational therapy and be given proper support when he is discharged, the hospital said.
The report said that Chen should first be transferred from the hospital’s psychiatric ward to a chronic disease ward.
The Agency of Corrections estimated that Chen and 60,000 other prisoners will be covered under the new health insurance system that will be implemented this year.
Based on an estimated NT$1,684 a month in premium payments for each inmate, the ministry will have to budget about NT$1.2 billion a year for that purpose.
Chen, who is currently serving an 18-and-a-half-year prison term for corruption, was sentenced on Dec. 20 to another 10 years for taking bribes in a financial merger.
Even with the new sentence, he would serve no more than 20 years in total because that was the maximum sentence prescribed in the Criminal Code for his crime at the time, legal sources said.
The Criminal Code was later amended to revise the maximum sentence to 30 years. Chen has been behind bars for nearly four years. Since his transfer to Taipei Prison on Dec. 6, 2010, he has reportedly developed several ailments, including urological and heart problems and severe depression.