The Ministry of Justice yesterday said that Taipei Veterans General Hospital had never formally suggested that imprisoned former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) be granted medical parole because of his deteriorating health, saying the hospital had not offered a final conclusion on how to treat Chen.
“Chen’s doctors suggested that Chen’s condition could be improved if he were accompanied by his family, but this could not be interpreted as meaning that allowing Chen to go home is the only way to improve his condition. Actually, the hospital did not make any conclusion on how to treat Chen,” Vice Minister of Justice Chen Ming-tang (陳明堂) told a press conference.
He said that between Sept. 21 last year and Feb. 16, the former president received 333 visits, of which 124 were by family members.
“Prisoners in Taipei Prison are not allowed to receive visits by their family members during Lunar New Year holidays, but Chen was able to dine with his wife, Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍), his son, Chen Chih-chung (陳致中), his daughter-in-law, Huang Jui-ching (黃睿靚), and his granddaughter on New Year’s Eve,” Chen Ming-tang said.
Chen’s friends and his civilian medical team physician Kuo Cheng-deng (郭正典) also visited him during the holidays, the official said.
Control Yuan members on Friday endorsed an investigation conducted by Control Yuan member Huang Huang-hsiung (黃煌雄) that found that Chen Shui-bian’s illness could be attributed to his prison environment.
It also found that the ministry and Taipei Prison did not deal appropriately with Chen’s heath conditions and on several occasions downplayed the former president’s health issues.
Huang showed video footage of Chen Shui-bian being asked to perform a walking test in the presence of several physicians and a Taipei Prison official.
The footage showed that Chen Shui-bian had difficulty walking. He was unable to walk forward when he was told to do so and kept falling down if he was not held up. He also had difficulty walking in a straight line and struggled to walk with his eyes closed.
The vice minister said the footage showed the former president undergoing a neurological test “which could not represent his real health condition.”
The official reiterated that Taipei Prison had made great efforts to take care of Chen Shui-bian’s health.
The 62-year-old former president, serving an 18-and-a-half-year prison sentence on corruption charges, has been treated at the Taipei Veterans General Hospital since September last year for suspected depression and other health problems.
In October last year, the former president was diagnosed with severe depression compounded by anxiety and somatization disorder, among other ailments.